Panniculectomy Recovery

What kind of recovery time can I expect from a panniculectomy? Is it the same as a tummy tuck or less? Will I need someone to help me out? How long will I need to take off of work? Thanks.

Doctor Answers 7

Panniculectomy Recovery

Thank you for your question.
The main difference between these 2 procedures is the muscle plication that occurs during the tummy tuck surgery and not for the panniculectomy.  In any case, the tummy tuck and panniculectomy operations are considered major operatios which often involves a significant physical and emotional recovery ( often underestimated by surgeons and patients alike); a few words of advice I provide to my patients may be helpful to you:
1. Make sure you are doing the procedure for the right reasons (for yourself) and that you have realistic expectations. Be aware that an improvement in the “problem area” may not translate to an overall improvement in your life situation. You are bound to be disappointed with results of the procedure if your motivation for doing the surgery is not internally driven.
2. Time your surgery carefully; generally, it is not a good idea to have surgery done during or immediately after a stressful period in life (for example divorce or death of a loved one). The additional stress of surgery will undoubtedly be more challenging to deal with if a patient's emotional reserves our already exhausted. Remember, that an improvement in your physical appearance will not translate to an improvement in your life situation.
3. If possible speak to patients who have undergone similar procedures and query them about the toughest times of their recovery period. Any practical hints previous patients can provide may be very helpful.
4. Make sure you are aware of potential complications that may arise how to reach your surgeon if necessary.
5. Make sure you have a strong and patient support system (several people if possible) in place who have time/patience to take care of you. Arrange for professional nursing if any doubt exists regarding the availability and/or stamina of your caretakers.
6. Be patient with the healing process, understanding that it will take several weeks to months to feel “normal” again. It may also take many months/year to see the end results of your surgery.
7. Be prepared to distract your mind with things of interest such as books, magazines, and movies.
8. Expect less of yourself; do not go back to work, school or chores too early and let others take care of you (for a change).
9. Pick your surgeon carefully (a well experienced board-certified plastic surgeon) and trust in his/her advice. Keep in close communication with your surgeon and do not hesitate to communicate questions/concerns and the emotional swings that you may experience.
10.  Keep in mind the end results as you go through the tougher emotional times after your surgery.
I hope this, and the attached link, helps. Best wishes.

San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1,488 reviews

Abdominoplasty and Tummy tuck in Los Angeles

The recovery time for a panniculectomy is considerably less than an abdominoplasty because there is no muscle plication and tightening in a panniculectomy.


Dr. Karamanoukian

Raffy Karamanoukian, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 94 reviews

Panniculectomy Recovery

The recovery from abdominal wall panniculectomy is very similar to the recovery from abdominoplasty surgery. This recovery varies from patient to patient and is related to the amount of skin and subcutaneous fat removed. In some cases, relatively small amounts of skin are removed while in other cases 30 to 40 pounds can be removed following massive weight loss. This difference can dramatically impact the recovery.

In the immediate postoperative period, patients can anticipate limited physical activity for ten to fourteen days. I typically tell my patients bathroom and kitchen privileges initially with slow resumption of normal activity over the next two weeks. Patients can usually return to work in two weeks if no strenuous activity or heavy lifting is involved. After six weeks, they can resume all their normal activities including heavy lifting.

Patients typically wear an abdominal binder for three weeks following surgery. This minimizes swelling and increases comfort. Drains are placed at the time of surgery and are usually removed within two weeks of surgery. Pain management is extremely important. Most patients are initially given narcotic pain relievers and switched to Tylenol five to seven days following surgery. Patients with small children should have assistance with child care for at least one week and patients should not drive while taking narcotics.

For many patients, abdominal wall panniculectomy is a life-changing experience and results in dramatic changes in self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-image. 

Richard J. Bruneteau, MD
Omaha Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 194 reviews

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Since people react differently to pain and since skin overhangs vary drastically in their dimensions, recovery can be similar to a Mini-Tummy Tuck to that of a major abdominal operation.

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There are panniculectomies (2-5 pounds) and then there are panniculectomies (40 or more pounds). Recovery varies tremendously and so do the post-operative care requirements. In comparison to a tummy tuck it is generally less.

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Panniculectomy recovery

Recovery from this operation is dependent upon your medical issues, amount to be removed. On average 3 to 6 weeks is the range of recovery.


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The recovery from a panniculectomy is typically the same as for a tummy tuck.  Two weeks off from work is recommended, then 2 months off from exercise.

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These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.