Losing a significant amount of weight can do wonders for overall health, but it can leave behind excessive skin. One area in particular where this is common is the lower stomach. For some, this abdominal skin may hang below the belt line, creating something called a pannus. A pannus presents more than an aesthetic issue and can actually impact quality of life.
A panniculectomy offers help and hope for those who wish to remove hanging abdominal skin. As with any surgery, some time will be needed to recover after treatment. Today, we take a closer look at what to expect during panniculectomy recovery. For more information, please contact Milwaukee, WI plastic surgeon Tracy McCall.
What Is a Panniculectomy?
A panniculectomy is different than abdominoplasty, commonly called a “tummy tuck,” in that it is used only to address hanging tissue below the navel. The panniculectomy procedure was created specifically to remove excessive lower abdominal skin commonly seen in those who have lost significant amounts of weight.
During the procedure, incisions are made around the pubic area, one from hip to hip and one that runs vertically down the midline of the body. The skin, and in some cases underlying muscle, is then tightened, excess tissue is removed, and incisions are sutured closed.
What to Expect during Recovery
Recovery after a panniculectomy begins in the hospital, immediately following surgery. Depending on the amount of tissue removed and personal circumstances, patients may spend one night in the hospital following surgery. During this time, drains may be placed into the patient's incisions to help remove excess fluids and keep swelling down. Drains are removed once fluid release levels off.
During recovery, it's normal for patients to experience some swelling and bruising around the abdominal area. Some discomfort should also be expected, but may be managed with doctor approved or prescribed medication. Any pain, swelling, or bruising should subside as the body heals. If pain or swelling become worse, it could be a sign of infection or other complications and should be brought to your doctor's attention immediately.
Additionally, it is important for patients to wear a support garment throughout the recovery process. Support garments help reduce swelling and keep the tissues in place as the body heals.
It's also important to avoid strenuous activity for at least six weeks or until approved by your doctor. Although strenuous activity, like weight lifting and running, should be avoided, light walks are often recommended shortly after surgery to encourage healing and promote blood circulation.
Patients should expect to take some time off from work to recover. With that said, most patients are generally able to return to work within two weeks of surgery, provided their job doesn't require strenuous activity.
Some scarring should be expected after a panniculectomy. Scars generally fade over time but the extent to which scarring occurs largely depends on personal healing factors.
Final results can take several months to become fully apparent as swelling decreases, but most patients will notice a difference almost immediately.
Learn More about the Panniculectomy Procedure
A pannus can impact quality of life, potentially causing infection, odor, skin ulcers, back pain, as well as make daily activities difficult. A panniculectomy can eliminate loose, hanging abdominal skin and reduce the risks associated with this skin. To find out more about the panniculectomy procedure, we welcome you to schedule a consultation with Dr. McCall.