Woman with Measuring Tape Around Her Middle

A common question from many of our clients following significant weight loss is whether they would benefit from a panniculectomy or an abdominoplasty. While the nuances between the two can be confusing, the basic difference between a panniculectomy and an abdominoplasty can be summed up by the design principle of form vs. function. In this case, a panniculectomy is function, whereas an abdominoplasty is cosmetic.

While both improve an individual’s appearance after significant weight loss and the procedures themselves are quite similar, the purposes for electing either a panniculectomy or abdominoplasty are markedly different.

Why You Might Need a Panniculectomy

As defined by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, “The goal of panniculectomy surgery is to remove hanging skin and fat from the lower abdomen to create a smoother abdominal contour. A panniculectomy differs from a tummy tuck in that the abdominal muscles are typically not tightened during a panniculectomy.”

So, where does this excess skin come from?

Common culprits for the development of excess skin and fat include:

  • Age
  • Genetics
  • Massive weight loss
  • Pregnancy
  • Prior surgery(ies)

Despite these factors, a panniculectomy can make a real difference in the overall appearance and feel of the abdominal wall.

Why an Abdominoplasty Might Be Appropriate

Compared to a panniculectomy, an abdominoplasty is designed to address less severe symptoms of sagging and excess skin due to extra pounds. Also known as a tummy tuck, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons explains that an abdominoplasty “removes excess fat and skin and, in most cases, restores weakened or separated muscles creating an abdominal profile that is smoother and firmer.”

In other words, the end goal is an enhanced appearance. This is ideal even for those who have a healthy body weight, but have been unable to achieve their desired results through exercise and diet alone. An abdominoplasty might be the answer if you fit this criteria.

Some of the obstacles to achieving a smooth, firm abdomen are:

  • Age
  • Fluctuation in weight
  • Genetics
  • Pregnancy
  • Prior surgery(ies)

Electing an abdominoplasty combats the effects of the above issues, leaving patients with an improved abdominal appearance.

As with any plastic surgery procedure, your doctor will consult and diagnose whether a panniculectomy or abdominoplasty is right for you. If you’re ready to shape your body to your needs, please contact us today to schedule your consultation.