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Everything You Need to Know about Panniculectomy Surgery

One day, you decided that you no longer wanted to carry all that excess weight around. Instead, you determined to take charge of your life and lose the weight. So you exercised like a maniac and kept to a healthy diet, or maybe you opted for bariatric surgery. Either way, you were rewarded by losing most of your excess body weight. The quality of life you imagined is becoming a reality.

But there’s a problem. Even though you’re now pounds lighter and feel great, you’re astonished to see how your stomach looks in the mirror. You have what is commonly known as an apron belly or pannus stomach. It’s a condition left over from your weight gain: fat and excess skin that accumulated around your midsection. It can’t be eliminated by diet and exercise alone.

According to the cosmetic surgery experts at Rowe Plastic Surgery in Manhattan, Long Island, New Jersey and the Hamptons, a simple tummy tuck can’t resolve this problem. This cosmetic surgery is for toning or shaping your abdomen, not removing a lot of excess skin and fat. You need a special type of procedure called the panniculectomy surgery.

What Is Panniculectomy Surgery?

There’s a difference between panniculectomy surgery and a tummy tuck. Panniculectomy is primarily a skin removal surgery. It involves cutting away your pannus stomach, including the stomach skin, fat and tissue, that hangs like an overbearing apron below your belly button and over your pubic area. If you lost a lot of weight, this flap can even reach your upper thighs.

A pannus stomach can develop whenever you lose a significant amount of weight in a relatively quick manner. While surgery can correct your pannus problem, you must be aware of the limitations of the procedure, including:

  • Panniculectomy can’t correct stretch marks, but they can be removed if they’re located near the excess flap of skin.
  • The surgery can’t help you lose the weight, it just removes your overhanging belly that you got from losing all the weight.
  • Your NYC and NJ cosmetic surgery specialists suggest you get this surgery only after you have reached your target weight.
  • Even though a panniculectomy provides a permanent solution, its advantages are diminished by further weight fluctuations. So maintain a stable weight after this surgery.

Why Do I Need Panniculectomy Surgery?

Just as saggy breasts can be aesthetically unpleasant, so too is an overhanging belly. That extra skin and tissue doesn’t make you feel any more self-confident. By removing the excess flap, you gain a leaner appearance that accentuates all the lost weight.

Some men and women sometimes opt to get a tummy tuck or a liposuction with the panniculectomy surgery for a more toned appearance. The tummy tuck tightens your weakened stomach muscles for a smoother, firmer abdomen. Other reasons you may need to get panniculectomy surgery include:

  • The overhanging skin interferes with your posture, making it difficult to walk, stand and sit properly.
  • You need the surgery because the overhanging flap can cause hygiene problems. Sweat can accumulate under the overlapping skin, causing skin problems like acne.
  • You can also develop sores, rashes and infections underneath the skin flap. By getting the surgery, you resolve this ongoing problem.
  • There is a chance that you can get ulcers, which can lead to other serious skin conditions.
  • Your surgeon may recommend panniculectomy surgery when you’re getting treated surgically for a hernia.

Am I a Good Candidate for the Surgery?

Not everyone with an overhanging fat apron can get the panniculectomy surgery. You may have gotten a gastric bypass or changed your lifestyle to reduce the weight, but if you aren’t medically fit, you can be denied the surgery. Conditions like diabetes, heart disease and lung disease put you in a higher risk category.

A high risk puts you off most experienced surgeons’ lists. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, to be eligible for the surgery you need to be:

  • A non-smoker
  • Healthy, both physically and mentally
  • Plagued with recurring sores, rashes and infections in the overhanging area
  • Feeling unattractive about yourself because of the unsightly pannus stomach
  • Knowledgeable about the difference between panniculectomy surgery and a tummy tuck
  • Realistic about your goals and the possible outcomes of the surgery
  • Not currently pregnant or have plans to become pregnant in the near future

What Can I Expect from Panniculectomy Surgery?

Most women worry about the tummy tuck and panniculectomy scars the surgeries leave behind. This is where the skills of your expert cosmetic surgeon in NJ and NYC are most apparent. Using precision borne of experience, your surgeon makes the incisions in a way that minimizes and hides the scar.

The primary incision is horizontal across your midsection between your belly button and pubic region. How long the incision needs to be depends on your particular case. Other considerations to understand include:

  • In some circumstances, you can get a vertical incision if your excess skin is arranged in a transverse dimension.
  • The overlapping skin, fat and tissue are carefully cut. This phase requires an expert hand and cosmetic eye, as your surgeon must determine how much excess skin to remove for optimal results.
  • The entire procedure may take between three to five hours to complete, depending on the amount of excess skin and tissue that needs to be removed.

What Happens After the Surgery?

Panniculectomy surgery is considered a major surgery, so you need to take it slow while recuperating. If you’re in good physical health, you can be up on your feet in a week or two. You may see the results of the surgery in two weeks, although there may still be some swelling that can impact the appearance of your abdomen. During your recovery:

  • Don’t smoke, as that can cause problems with your recovery.
  • You may feel numbness or bruising during the first few weeks.
  • You may feel tired all the time. It’s recommended that you use this time to rest. When you do get up and move around, make sure to keep pressure off your abdomen by bending your legs and hips. Don’t use your back or abdominal muscles.
  • Your doctor may suggest wearing an elastic support, like a girdle, as it provides additional support while you heal.
  • Avoid all forms of strenuous activities, as they can cause further damage. Usually, you have to refrain for four to six weeks before you can start doing these types of activities again.
  • It can take about two years before you can see the intended results from the surgery. You must be patient while the scars fade.

When you’re ready to complete the transformation you started by losing all that weight, you’re ready for panniculectomy surgery. Contact the cosmetic surgeons at Rowe Plastic Surgery on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and in Plainview and Water Mill, NY, as well as in Red Bank and Montclair, NJ. This team has the knowledge, skills and equipment to perform your skin removal surgery.

 

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