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What you need to know about a panniculectomy:

A panniculectomy is surgery to remove your pannus. A pannus, or apron, is extra skin and fat on your lower abdomen. The pannus may hang down over your genitals or thighs, or as low as your knees. A panniculectomy is usually done after you have lost a large amount of weight. A pannus may cause low back pain, or yeast infections or ulcers in your skin folds. A pannus may also make it hard to fit into clothes.

How to prepare for a panniculectomy:

Your healthcare provider will talk to you about how to prepare for surgery. Your provider will tell you not to eat or drink anything after midnight on the day of your surgery. He or she will tell you what medicines to take or not take on the day of your surgery. You may be given an antibiotic through your IV to help prevent a bacterial infection. Arrange to have someone drive you home and stay with you for 1 to 2 days.

What will happen during a panniculectomy:

You will be given general anesthesia to keep you asleep and free from pain during surgery. Your surgeon will make a horizontal incision from one hipbone to the other, right above the genital area. A vertical incision may also be made in your abdomen. Extra skin and fat will be removed. A drain may be placed to remove extra blood and fluid from the surgery area. The remaining skin will be closed with stitches or staples and may be covered with medical tape or a bandage.

What will happen after a panniculectomy:

You may need to stay in the hospital for up to 1 week. Your drain may be removed while you are in the hospital. You will need to start walking as soon as possible to help prevent a blood clot. Pain, bruising, and swelling are expected after surgery.

Risks of a panniculectomy:

You may bleed more than expected or get an infection. You may not be happy with the results of your surgery. You may have permanent scars. A seroma (pocket of fluid) may form near the incision wounds. You may develop poor blood flow to the skin near the wounds. The wounds may not heal properly and may split open. You may get a blood clot in your arm or leg. This may become life-threatening.

Call 911 if:

  • You feel lightheaded, short of breath, and have chest pain.
  • You cough up blood.

Seek care immediately if:

  • Your leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
  • Blood soaks through your bandage.
  • Your incision wound comes apart.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have a fever or chills.
  • Your incision wound is red, swollen, or draining pus.
  • Your pain does not go away, even after you take medicine.
  • You have bruises that get larger.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


You may need any of the following:

  • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask your healthcare provider how to take this medicine safely. Some prescription pain medicines contain acetaminophen. Do not take other medicines that contain acetaminophen without talking to your healthcare provider. Too much acetaminophen may cause liver damage. Prescription pain medicine may cause constipation. Ask your healthcare provider how to prevent or treat constipation.
  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.


  • Care for your incision wound as directed. You may need to take sponge baths until your healthcare provider says it is okay to shower. You may be able to shower on day 3 after surgery. Carefully wash the wound with soap and water. Gently pat the area dry the area and put on new, clean bandages as directed. Change your bandages when they get wet or dirty.
  • Do not exercise or lift anything 10 pounds or more for up to 6 weeks. Ask your healthcare provider when you can return to your usual activities and work.
  • Wear your support device as directed. The support device will help support your abdomen and may help you feel less pain while you are healing.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

You may need to return to have your incision wounds checked, and drains, staples, or stitches removed. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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