How Much Is A Panniculectomy In The UK?

What Is A Panniculectomy?

A panniculectomy is a cosmetic procedure designed to remove the panniculus (sometimes called the pannus, or abdominal apron), or the large amount of skin left hanging over the abdomen and genital area after losing a large amount of weight. It is not the same as an abdominoplasty, but may be combined with one. The abdominoplasty operation will involve some repositioning and tightening of muscles, whereas the panniculectomy will only remove the skin and does not work at all on the muscles.

The Procedure

The surgery itself involves being under general anaesthetic. It is fairly straightforward compared to an abdominoplasty and should leave scarring only in the bikini line area, where the lower incision is made. The other incision is made from the sternum to the pubic bone. Excess skin and fat is then removed and the remaining skin is sutured together again. Patients will have to take time off from work after the surgery as the recovery period is significant. The doctor will insert drains post surgery to help get rid of any excess fluid. There is likely to be some pain, swelling and brusing during the recovey period and lifting and strenuous exercise should be avoided for several weeks. Smokers should cease smoking althogether if possible before surgery as this will severely affect wound healing, which can lead to infection. As with any major cosmetic procedure, recovery advice must be followed very carefully for the best possible results, and any complications must be reported immediately to the medical team responsible for follow up.

After Surgery

After you have undergone your surgery, you will be taken into the recovery ward to begin the healing process.

Just as your surgeon will have provided pre-operative material to help you prep ahead of your surgery, they will now provide you with a post-operative instruction list that will outline the steps you should follow afterwards. You will likely have to wear a support garment in the weeks following your procedure, and so you will be advised to avoid baths during this time to ensure the wound does not get wet and put at risk of infection. After a panniculectomy, you should avoid exercise, and refrain from any heavy lifting of items 10lbs or more. There should also be no application of pressure on the abdominal area as you heal.

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As a panniculectomy is an invasive surgical procedure, there will be an extensive recovery period following your operation.

a panniculectomy is used to remove excess skin

The procedure itself involves tightening the abdominal muscles and repositioning the navel, and this extensive surgery means you will experience some discomfort and pain immediately afterwards. Throughout the first week, patients can expect a degree of bruising and swelling to develop, although how much so will vary from individual to individual. You can also expect to feel numbness and tightness, but this is normal and will eventually subside. If you have been fitted with surgical drainage tubes, these will be removed in the first week after your surgery, along with the stitches if they are not dissolvable. You will be wearing a support garment in the first few weeks after your surgery, as this will reduce the swelling and assist with a swift recovery.

In the weeks following your surgery, you can gradually start to resume normal activities, although anything too strenuous should be avoided. You should be able to see initial results of the surgery within one month of the procedure, although many patients will see a noticeable difference a few months afterwards. The incision will begin to fade, but it may take up to a year for it to become noticeably less visible. Within a few months, you will be able to return to work.

Who Is Eligible For The Operation?

Anyone who has lost a massive amount of weight and has excess skin which is causing them distress or problems in everyday life is potentially eligible for the panniculectomy operation. The overhanging "apron" of skin is not just inconvenient; it can cause health problems in its own right through chafing and rubbing which can lead to sores and ulcers. It does not matter whether a patient has lost weight through diet and exercise, or through bariatric surgery. Women who have a lot of excess skin post-pregnancy may also be eligible for the procedure. Clinics and cosmetic surgeons will demand that a certain number of conditions are met however. Patients seeking this surgical procedure will need to have maintained a healthy and steady weight for a minimum of a year. Generally they should be following a healthy diet and exercise regime in addition to this. Some US clinics, for example, will not perform panniculectomy if they consider it to be purely for cosmetic reasons - there must be complications from the panniculus already visible.

Eligibility: Tummy Tuck Vs Panniculectomy

A tummy tuck removes excess skin and fat and also tightens the abdominal muscles, while a panniculectomy removes any overhanging skin and tissue from below the navel.

You may be an eligible candidate for a tummy tuck procedure if you have maintained a stable weight and are physically healthy enough to withstand surgery, and you are a non-smoker. While a tummy tuck can correct a large stomach and remove excess fat, it’s important to be realistic about the attainable results in order to be considered for this surgery.

Panniculectomy candidates normally either suffer from obesity currently, or have done so in the past and have experienced significant weight loss that has resulted in an accumulation of excessive fat build-up below the navel. To be deemed eligible for this procedure, your weight should have remained stable for one year, and if you are a woman, you should have no plans to become pregnant in the near future. You should be in good overall health, adhere to a healthy diet and regular exercise plan, and be non-smoker.


All surgical procedures carry an element of risk, and panniculectomy is no exception.

Undergoing the surgery may put you at risk of complications that include bleeding and infection, scarring, adverse reaction to anaesthesia, fluid accumulation, fat necrosis, nerve damage, deep vein thrombosis (blood clots) and the possible need for revisional surgery. Speak to your surgeon about the safety of this procedure before choosing to go ahead.

Costs In The UK

Panniculectomy is currently unavailable on the NHS as it is considered a cosmetic procedure only. While prices can vary depending on where the patient is looking and on the experience of the doctor or clinic, as a general guide patients can expect to pay between £4,500 and £8,000. Patients are recommended to ascertain when they are quoted prices by clinics whether or not those prices include all follow up visits or the surgery only.

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