Abdominoplasty vs Panniculectomy: Difference and Comparison

Abdominoplasty and panniculectomy are two procedures carried out on the lower abdomen. People get them done to have a flatter-looking belly that would aid their weight loss journey.

However, both procedures have different mechanisms of functioning. It can often be confusing to choose which one is the right option.

Key Takeaways

  1. Abdominoplasty is a cosmetic surgery that removes excess skin and fat from the abdominal area while tightening the muscles.
  2. Panniculectomy is a surgical procedure that removes only the excess skin and fat from the lower abdomen.
  3. The main difference between the two procedures is that abdominoplasty involves muscle tightening, while panniculectomy does not.

Abdominoplasty vs Panniculectomy

Abdominoplasty is a cosmetic surgical procedure that involves removing excess skin and fat from the abdomen and tightening the muscles of the abdominal wall to create a flatter, more toned abdomen. Panniculectomy is a surgical procedure to remove excess skin and fat from the lower abdomen to improve quality of life.

Abdominoplasty vs Panniculectomy

Abdominoplasty, commonly known as ‘tummy tuck’, is a cosmetic procedure that aims at making the abdomen slimmer and firm. It is often done by people who have sagging skin after major weight loss or by women who have gone through pregnancy.


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The muscles of the abdomen are tightened along with the removal of excess skin and fat.

Panniculectomy is a medical procedure that primarily aims at removing the panniculus. This is a thick fatty tissue that lines the walls of the lower abdomen. While abdominoplasty is an elective process, a panniculectomy is more of a medical necessity.

It is mostly done by people who have had weight loss surgery.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonAbdominoplastyPanniculectomy
MeaningIt is a cosmetic procedure to make the belly firmer.It is a medical procedure performed on the lower abdomen.
RequisiteIt is up to a person to choose if they want to get it done.It is a medical necessity.
ProcedureSkin and fat are removed from the abdomen while tightening the muscles.The panniculus is removed from the lower abdomen, but the muscles are not tightened.
EmptorIt is done by people who have sagging skin after weight loss or by women post-pregnancy.It is done by people who have gone through weight-loss surgeries.
Side EffectsSide effects include back pain and incontinence.Side effects include infections, rashes or ulcers under the skin.
CostIt is affordable and cheaper than the latter.It is very expensive to get this procedure done.

What is Abdominoplasty?

Abdominoplasty is a cosmetic procedure that makes a person’s lower abdomen look slimmer and firmer. It is carried out by plastic surgeons.

The excess skin and fat, which causes a belly to sag, are removed, and the muscles of that area are tightened. People who have gone through excessive weight loss or pregnancy generally get this done.

The process requires a recovery period after the surgery takes place. Generally, the patient takes around four weeks to heal completely. However, in the initial phase, there may be discomfort and bruising.

Certain measures should be taken, such as avoiding nicotine and heavy-weight manual work. Moreover, a supportive abdominal binder may prove to be helpful.

There are also certain risks that can often become life-threatening. Complications such as infections, thrombosis and blood clots may appear after the surgical process.

Therefore, it is always advisable to undergo the procedure in a professional setting after proper consultation and research.

A common problem many people face after abdominoplasty is fluid under the abdominal skin. This liquid, which is essentially puss, can be removed by a surgeon by draining it with a needle.

Regardless, it does affect the final results of the surgery in any way.

What is Panniculectomy?

Panniculectomy is a medical surgery that is done to remove the panniculus from the lower abdomen. A thick fatty tissue is present along the lower abdomen’s wall.

Qualified plastic surgeons carry this procedure out for people for whom it is necessary. Those who have gone through a weight loss surgery generally get this done.

The procedure involves making two cuts in the abdominal wall to remove skin and tissue. Using sutures, the top and bottom parts of the skin are reattached. However, unlike the former, the muscles are not tightened during the process.

However, they may be certain side effects that occur, such as infections, rashes, and ulcers underneath the skin.

It takes about two to five hours to carry out such a surgery. However, this may vary according to the patient’s body structure and the size of incisions made. The process of recovery takes about the same time as a tummy tuck.

Complications may occur as well, but the results are always permanent.

Regardless, getting a panniculectomy dome costs much more than an abdominoplasty. The extra cost of anaesthesia and hospital care takes the number to a much greater amount.

However, there are certain insurance companies that have policies to cover such surgeries.

Main Differences Between Abdominoplasty and Panniculectomy

  1. Abdominoplasty is a cosmetic procedure, whereas panniculectomy is a medical procedure.
  2. Abdominoplasty is elective, whereas panniculectomy is a medical necessity.
  3. Abdominoplasty involves removing excess skin and fat while tightening the muscles, whereas, in panniculectomy, the panniculus is removed from the abdomen without tightening the muscles in that area.
  4. People who have sagging skin after weight loss or pregnant women get an abdominoplasty, whereas panniculectomy is for people who have undergone weight-loss surgeries.
  5. Abdominoplasty may cause side effects such as back pain and incontinence, whereas panniculectomy may cause side effects such as rashes, ulcers and infections.
  6. Abdominoplasty is generally affordable and cheap, whereas panniculectomy is more expensive than the former.
Difference Between Abdominoplasty and Panniculectomy
  1. https://journals.lww.com/annalsplasticsurgery/fulltext/2020/09000/postoperative_complications_of_panniculectomy_and.17.aspx
  2. https://journals.lww.com/annalsplasticsurgery/Fulltext/2004/10000/An_Outcomes_Analysis_and_Satisfaction_Survey_of.11.aspx
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