Panniculus by definition is the redundant skin and soft tissue of the abdomen, resulting from massive weight loss.The term "ectomy" means excision or removal. Thus Panniculectomy means excision of the panniculus.
Panniculectomy and Abdominoplasty (“tummy tuck”) are closely related and may be confused. While Abdominoplasty is designed to smooth out a protruding abdomen, Panniculectomy is intended to correct excessive hanging of the abdominal fatty tissue to a point where the panniculus covers the pubis or below, often causing a chronic rash and irritation in the pubic area because of moisture and friction. The extensive hanging of the panniculus also results in lower back pain.
However, Panniculectomy can be combined with Abdominoplasty if the umbilicus needs to be relocated or the condition of the upper abdominal wall needs to be improved. It can also be combined with tightening of the abdominal wall muscles which become loose and inactive due to lack of abdominal wall exercises or pregnancy.
The procedure is preferably performed in a hospital setting with overnight hospital stay. Normally, drains are placed for a period of two weeks. Patients can resume normal activities within three to six weeks.
Panniculectomy is covered by most health insurance policies if the patient has lost over one hundred pounds and has maintained weight loss for over one year.