Panniculectomy versus Abdominoplasty â€“ Is There a Difference?
Both of these fourteen letter words, panniculectomy and abdominoplasty get thrown around quite a bit when discussing plastic and cosmetic surgery, but is there really a difference between the two? The short answer is yes, but as you will soon see, the distinction between the two is not always made.
A panniculus is defined by Stedmanâ€™s Medical Dictionary as â€śa sheet or layer of tissueâ€ť thus a panniculectomy is a surgical incision and removal of a panniculus. Curiously when you look at the definition of panniculectomy (two entries before panniculus) it is defined as â€śa surgical excision of a redundant panniculus adiposus, usually of the abdomen.â€ť Therefore a surgery that is performed to remove a redundant (i.e. extra, useless) area of fat from the belly, it is a panniculectomy.
Abdominoplasty is a surgery that changes the contour of the abdomen by removing excess fat and skin. Sound familiar? You see when applied to the stomach, panniculectomy and abdominoplasty are essentially the same thing, a procedure to remove excess tissue. And since the lower abdomen is the most common place for a panniculus to form, the two terms are used almost synonymously.
When is a panniculectomy not an abdominoplasty? If the excess layer of tissue or panniculus is located somewhere other than the abdomen, then it the corrective surgery is not an abdominoplasty. In morbid obesity or in the elderly, a panniculus can form in one of a number of locations. Some of the more common spots are on the upper arms, the neck and sides of the face, breasts (mostly in men) and even on the upper legs. In cases such as these, a panniculectomy may be performed to remove excess fat, skin, or both.
A final word on the term panniculus: many people (including some doctors!) refer to the term pannus interchangeably with the word panniculus. They are two separate things. A pannus is a â€śmembrane of granulation tissue covering a normal surface.â€ť A pannus is generally something that is quite thin but a panniculus can and usually is quite large. Fat tissue is not granulation tissue. Therefore thick layer of fat and skin that overhangs the belt of an obese individual is a panniculus, not a pannus.
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