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Frequently Asked Questions » Panniculectomy vs Tummy Tuck

Panniculectomy vs. Tummy Tuck

Some patients ask me, “what is the difference between a panniculectomy and an abdominoplasty or tummy tuck. And this is because sometimes the terms get mixed together. Well, there is a difference. In short, a panniculectomy is a medical operation and an abdominoplasty or tummy tuck is a cosmetic operation.

During the abdominoplasty, or tummy tuck, not only the skin but the muscles underneath the skin are tightened up. This is so someone can have a flatter looking abdomen and is often done in plastic surgery offices. A panniculectomy usually has a medical reason.

So, when patients like mine have weight loss after bariatric surgery, or let’s say you go on a diet and you lose a lot of weight and that excess belly skin hangs over your waist. Sometimes as low as your knees. You can have problems from that. It can be back problems, mobility problems and you can have sores under your skin – you may have hygiene issues.

In those cases, we can sometimes get insurance to cover removal of the pannus, which is done the same way that we remove the skin during the abdominoplasty. However, we do not tighten the muscles underneath because the purpose is to get rid of the medical problems from excess skin – it’s not necessarily to get a flat abdomen. That being said there is often a very satisfying cosmetic result from a panniculectomy also.

That’s the difference between a panniculectomy and a tummy tuck.