If you have had children or recently lost a large amount of weight you are most likely suffering with the problem of excess skin and a soft stomach. There are multiple surgical options that can be explored in order to resolve these issues. It is important to understand the differences between them. The two most common types of operations are abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) and a panniculectomy. Although they may seem to have to same outcome, these two are very different in many ways. Let’s take a look at the facts.
Overview of Abdominoplasty
1. Removes Excess Skin
An abdominoplasty procedure is used to remove any excess skin on the stomach that may have been caused by pregnancy or extreme weight loss. This procedure is typically done for aesthetic reasons.
2. Tightens Muscles
Often with pregnancy the muscles in the abdomen stretch and become loose. This makes is very hard for women to loose the pose pregnancy “pooch”. With abdominoplasty the muscle of abdominal wall are tightened and rejoined after they have become separated, making is easier to form stronger abdominal muscles in the future.
Abdominoplasty is a very common procedure, and the risk of complication is relatively low. However with any surgical procedure complications are possible, some of the mentioned risks with this procedure are ; bleeding, numbness, deep vein thrombosis, persistent pain, infection, and anesthesia risks.
4. Recovery Time
Recovery with this procedure is pretty timely. The patient can usually return to normal day to day activities within 2 to 3 weeks after the surgery. However pain and numbness from this procedure is usually present for many months.
5. Scarring and Bruising
Since this is an invasive surgery, an incision scar and bruising are to be expected. The bruising typically fades after a period of weeks but it is common for swelling to be present for months. Scarring is also a guarantee from this surgery, with the incision like fading over several months but remaining permanently visible.
The way an abdominoplasty is performed is by making a horizontal cut above or right on the pubic region. An additional incision may also be made near the belly button so that excessive skin can be pulled down and tightened. Depending on if it necessary the muscles of the abdomen walls will be stitched together with sutures in order to rejoin them.
Overview of A Panniculectomy
1. Common After Bariatric Weight Loss Surgery
Many people who have received bariatric weight loss surgery, or gastric by pass surgery, eventually opt to receive a panniculectomy due to the massive amount of excess skin that remains after significant weight loss.
2. A Necessary Procedure
In many cases the necessity of a panniculectomy is dire. The excess skin, also known as a pannus, can hang down over the genitals and make it very difficult to practice good hygiene in the area. Ulcers, sores, and infections can also develop as a result of the excess skin.
This surgery is done by first making two separate incisions in the abdomen. One is made horizontally from hip bone to hip bone and the other is made in the skin that is being removed. The excess skin is then cut away and and sutures are used to reattach the remaining skin. The entire surgery takes between two to five hours depending on the extent.
The overall recovery time is typically between 6 and 8 weeks, but can vary depending on your individual situation. The most discomfort and pain is in the first 3 to 5 days and subsides after that. Numbness of the skin in the area is also normal and can last up to several months. You will also have to walk with a slightly stooped posture for up to a month before you can return to your normal position. Drains may also be inserted in the abdomen in order to drain any fluid retention that may occur and are taken out after draining subsides.
The scar from the incision of this procedure will be present low on the abdomen, from hip bone to hip bone. Initially the scar will be very red and puffy, however the redness begins to fade after six months and the scar will soften. The scar of this surgery will be permanently present.
Differences Between Abdominoplasty and A Panniculectomy
1. Extent Of Effects
These two procedures are very different in the fact that an abdominoplasty is a reconstruction of the abdominal muscle as well as removal of loose skin while a panniculectomy only removes the excess skin and does not effect the waist line. These two surgeries are often used in conjunction with each other to achieve ideal results.
The recovery time between these procedures are slightly different. Abdominoplasty takes up to 3 weeks for a full recovery while a panniculectomy can take upwards of 8. This is due to the length of the incision that is required, which causes much more healing needed.
The cost of these two procedures vary drastically, with abdominplasty costing around 6,000 dollars while a panniculectomy can cost 12,000 dollars. However these numbers can be misleading because abdominplasty is very rarely covered by medical insurance because it is considered a purely cosmetic surgery. A panniculectomy can be covered in many cases, because while it is a cosmetic procedure, a pannus can cause many other health issues.