Lipidectomy: Everything You Need to Know

Surgery to remove excess skin from the lower abdomen (i.e. tapeworm) is called Lipid excision.

This skin removal procedure is optional and is used to relieve symptoms caused by a drape apron. Excess skin can cause irritation and interfere with daily activities. This is usually the result of significant weight loss.

This article discusses what a panniculectomy is and when it is recommended. It also covers what to expect during surgery and recovery.

What is Lipidectomy?

Lipidectomy is the surgical removal of protruding, overhanging skin and fat from the lower abdomen (ie, the pannus or apron).

The surgeon makes a horizontal incision above the pubic area between the buttocks. They may make another cut from the breastbone to the pelvic bone to remove fat and excess skin.

Surgery can be performed as an inpatient or outpatient procedure. If you are determined to be a good candidate, you and your surgeon will arrange this elective surgery.


If you have another medical condition that is not well controlled, you may not be suitable for this procedure. This can include diabetes, heart disease and lung disease. Obesity may also increase the risk of complications. If you are a current smoker, you may also be ineligible for skin removal surgery.

Lipidectomy is usually performed on adults and, in some cases, teens following bariatric surgery to lose weight. You should usually maintain a stable weight for six months before having a panniculectomy.

If you plan to lose a lot of weight, your healthcare provider may recommend delaying surgery.

potential risks

Risks of panniculectomy include:

  • sagging skin
  • scar
  • peeling skin
  • nerve damage
  • Infect
  • poor wound healing
  • effusion
  • tissue death


During a panniculectomy, the surgeon removes overhanging skin and fat from your lower abdomen. If you still plan to lose a lot of weight, your doctor may recommend that you delay surgery. If you have an uncontrolled health condition like diabetes or heart disease, you may not be a good candidate.

Risk of any surgery

Purpose of Lipidectomy

Excessive skin may result from a significant weight loss through gastric bypass surgery or lifestyle changes. It can also be caused by getting older, previous surgery, pregnancy or genetics.

If you have excess skin and fat in your lower abdomen above your thighs, your healthcare provider may recommend surgery. This can lead to sores and rashes and interfere with daily activities such as walking or personal hygiene. Lipidectomy can help prevent recurring skin irritation and infection under the skin fold.

Lipidectomy can be called a form of body contouring as it does result in a narrowing of the abdominal area. But peeling is only done to remove excess skin and fat and is not considered cosmetic surgery.

If your ultimate goal is really only about appearance, you might consider opting for abdominoplasty. This cosmetic procedure, better known as a tummy tuck, tightens the abdominal muscles in addition to removing fat.


Your healthcare provider will help you determine whether a lipectomy is medically necessary and safe for you. They can also order lab tests before deciding whether to schedule surgery.

If your condition causes a medical problem, your lipectomy may be covered by insurance. This may include rashes or sores that don’t respond to treatment. It may be covered if it interferes with daily activities and can be corrected with surgery. If your lipectomy is not medically necessary, you may pay out of pocket.

If applicable, check with your insurance provider ahead of time to see what will and will not be covered.


Lipectomy can help prevent recurring ulcers and rashes under the additional skin folds. It removes excess skin and fat, but should not be done just for cosmetic concerns.

Find out when and if insurance covers plastic surgery

How to prepare

You will make an appointment with your surgeon before your skin removal surgery. This gives you the opportunity to ask any questions about the procedure, including risks and typical outcomes. Additionally, you can ask about their medical background, including expertise and training in panniculectomy.

You should also arrange for someone to take you home after surgery. You may also want someone to accompany you during your recovery at least the first night after surgery.


Your lipectomy may be performed in a hospital or a licensed outpatient surgical setting.

what to wear

Wear or bring loose clothing that can be easily changed. Plan to change into a hospital gown for surgery.


Follow your surgeon’s instructions on when to stop eating and drinking before surgery.


Your healthcare provider may ask you to stop taking certain medicines a few days before your skin removal surgery. For example, aspirin, Advil (ibuprofen), coumarin (warfarin), and other medicines can cause bleeding problems. Ask your healthcare provider if you should continue taking any medications on the day of surgery.

To avoid complications, tell your healthcare provider before surgery if you are taking any medications. This includes prescription or any over-the-counter medicines, herbs and vitamins.

what to bring

Make sure you remember any paperwork and your health insurance card. Also, bring a change of clothes if you want to wear a separate outfit at home, or if you’re staying overnight. Remember to arrange for someone to drive you home after surgery.

Lifestyle changes before surgery

Surgeons generally recommend quitting smoking at least three to six weeks before skin removal surgery. Smoking reduces blood flow and oxygen. This can lead to life-threatening complications such as tissue death, delayed wound healing, blood clots and stroke.

To avoid complications, ask your surgeon about your risks before scheduling surgery.

Quitting smoking may improve surgical outcomes

What to expect on the day of surgery

A nurse will check your vital signs and ask about your medical history before performing a pantectomy. You will be given general anesthesia so you will fall asleep without any pain.

During surgery

A horizontal incision will be made in the area between the navel and the pubic area. Excess skin and fat will be removed with a scalpel or other surgical instrument through a horizontal incision.

In some cases, the surgeon will also make a vertical incision if you have excess skin and tissue in the lateral (left-right) dimension.

The remaining epigastric skin is then pulled down and the incision closed with sutures. Drainage tubes are thin tubes that can be temporarily inserted under the skin to prevent fluid buildup.

The process itself usually takes three to five hours to complete, depending on how much skin and fat is removed. Talk to your healthcare provider before having skin removal surgery to confirm the technique used.

after surgery

You will be monitored in the recovery area after the panniculectomy. As you recover from anesthesia, you may be asked to get up and take a few steps. Depending on the extent of your surgery, you can go home the day your condition is stable. In some cases, you may need to stay in the hospital for two days.

Your incision will be covered with a gauze dressing or bandage. After a day or two, your healthcare provider may put you on elastic support or compression garments to help support your belly as it heals.


The surgeon will make a horizontal (and sometimes vertical) incision between your belly button and the pubic area. The surgery takes about three to five hours. You may be able to go home that day, or you may need to stay in the hospital for two days.


Patients will experience pain and swelling for a few days after surgery. Your healthcare provider will give you pain medication to help manage your discomfort.

If you have a drain, your healthcare provider will guide you in your care. This may include how to record the amount of liquid in the drain and how to empty the drain.

Avoid strenuous activity for four to six weeks after surgery. You may return to work in about four weeks.

Your surgeon will tell you when to make a follow-up appointment. The drainage tube can be removed at this point.


You may experience pain, swelling, and bruising for a few days after surgery. During this time, you may feel a little numb and tired.

To help reduce abdominal pressure, try to keep your legs and hips bent while you rest. Your healthcare provider may recommend that you wait until 48 hours after surgery to take a bath. It may take up to three months for the swelling to subside and the wound to heal completely.

Contact your healthcare provider right away if you experience shortness of breath, chest pain, heart rate changes, or increased pain or swelling.

coping with rehabilitation

Skin removal surgery can help you feel more confident about your appearance, but it may take some time. The patient had obvious scars more than a year after the operation. It may take up to two years for the scar to subside and see the desired results.

Research shows that those who have skin removal surgery often have an adjustment process but are often satisfied with the results.

A study found that in the first year after body contouring surgery, patients were self-conscious about their scars and body image. However, these same patients reported improved body image and less pain with scarring after the first year.

In another study, patients who had undergone body sculpting surgery were surveyed about their body shape and ideal body shape. Even though they thought a thinner shape was ideal, their perception of their appearance improved significantly as a result of the surgery. The results showed that they were encouraged by their appearance and ability to achieve their goals.


In a panniculectomy, the surgeon removes overhanging skin and fat from the lower abdomen. Usually, this happens after you lose a lot of weight, especially after gastric bypass surgery or lifestyle changes.

If excess skin causes repeated irritation or infection, your healthcare provider may consider you a good candidate for surgery. This is not recommended for purely aesthetic reasons.

Lipidectomy can be performed as an outpatient or inpatient procedure and usually takes three to five hours. The wound can take up to three months to heal completely.

VigorTip words

Ask your healthcare provider any questions you may have about lipectomy, recovery time, and expected outcomes. Lipidectomy is a major surgery that can take weeks or months to heal completely. However, if you’re dealing with extra skin after losing weight, surgery can help improve your health and quality of life.