Tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) and panniculectomy are the two most effective surgeries to remove excess skin from the lower abdomen. Both of them are suitable for patients who have excessively sagging skin due to age, pregnancy, or sudden weight fluctuations. However, while the procedures might seem superficially similar, they have nuanced differences in results, objectives, and procedure details.
Below, we compare tummy tuck and panniculectomy according to their ideal candidates, side effects, procedure length, recovery period, and results.
A tummy tuck is a cosmetic surgical procedure that removes excess skin tissues and tightens the underlying abdominal muscles. Tightening the skin and underlying muscles increases the visibility of your existing abdominal muscles. Depending on the technique, the surgeon might make a small 4” incision or a large incision from hip to hip to trim away the excess skin and tighten the underlying muscles. The procedure might offer mild relief from back pain, but that’s not the primary goal.
Panniculectomy is a surgical procedure with significant medical benefits. This procedure is primarily meant for patients with large amounts of sagging skin tissues after undergoing sudden weight loss, especially after bariatric surgeries. The sagging skin often leads to ulcers, rashes, and infections, necessitating their removal. During the panniculectomy procedure, the surgeon makes incisions on the abdominal wall to remove the excess skin tissues and suture the two ends together.
You’re a suitable candidate for a tummy tuck if you:
- Want to remove the “belly pooch.”
- Can’t eliminate the excess skin and fat from your abdomen despite regular exercise.
- Are in generally good health.
You’re a suitable candidate for a panniculectomy if you:
- Have recently undergone a significant weight loss, leading to large masses of hanging skin.
- Have hygiene issues due to the sagging skin.
- Suffer from frequent infections, ulcers, and other medical problems because of the excess skin.
- Have recently undergone bariatric surgery.
The tummy tuck procedure usually takes one to four hours, depending on the type of surgical technique used.
The panniculectomy procedure usually takes two to five hours, depending on the amount of excess skin tissues.
Patients can usually return to work and most of their normal activities in two weeks, but the complete recovery process takes around six weeks.
It takes around eight weeks or more to recover completely from a panniculectomy. Furthermore, patients may have trouble standing up for the first two weeks.
A tummy tuck may cause mild swelling, pain, bruising, and numbness for a few days. However, the risk of major side effects, like infections and excessive bleeding, is negligible.
A panniculectomy may cause numbness for several weeks, in addition to redness, bruising, and other side effects common to all surgeries. You may also have drains attached to your skin to minimize fluid retention. The risk of major side effects, like infections and excessive bleeding, is negligible.
A tummy tuck gives you a smooth and contoured abdomen. The results are permanent, but you have to maintain a healthy lifestyle to avoid gaining weight and undoing the results.
The results from panniculectomy are permanent, even though they take longer to manifest. Without the excessive folds of sagging skin, your stomach will look flat and contoured. However, you must maintain a healthy lifestyle to avoid drastic weight fluctuations.
There’s considerable overlap between a tummy tuck and a panniculectomy. In some cases, patients can opt for a tummy tuck after a panniculectomy to improve the aesthetic results. Please schedule a consultation with Dr. Sadrian to discuss which procedure is right for you.