For Non Surgical | +1-416-925-2561
For Surgical | +1-877-211-7505

Panniculectomy vs Tummy Tuck

Panniculectomy vs Tummy Tuck

After significant weight loss, many individuals develop what is known as a pannus. A pannus is an apron of excess skin that hangs over the stomach or lower abdomen, and sometimes the genitals and legs. A pannus can also develop following a pregnancy. Because sagging, excess skin is difficult (if not impossible) to eliminate with diet and exercise, many individuals who have developed one opt for a panniculectomy, which is a cosmetic surgery procedure that removes the pannus. 

Panniculectomy is performed under general anesthesia. During a panniculectomy, your surgeon will make two incisions: one under the sternum that extends down to the pubic bone, and another horizontal incision along the public bone. The excess skin (the pannus) is then pulled taut and sutured to create a smoother, more sleek silhouette. Often, this type of surgery will require the surgeon to create a new belly button. 

What Is a Tummy Tuck?

A tummy tuck, also known as abdominoplasty, is a type of plastic surgery that helps patients achieve a flat and toned abdomen through the removal of excess skin and fat. The procedure also restores muscles that have been weakened or separated. 

A tummy tuck surgery is performed while the patient is under general anesthesia. An incision is made, and your surgeon will then lift your abdominal skin and repair any weakened muscles. Your surgeon will then trim any excess skin and stitch it together, and will likely make a new opening for a new belly button. Following the surgery, you will be required to stay overnight and will likely be able to return home the next day.

Panniculectomy Vs. Tummy Tuck

While both panniculectomy and tummy tuck procedures focus on contouring the midsection, there are significant differences between the two procedures. Panniculectomy focuses exclusively on reducing or eliminating excess skin that has resulted from significant weight loss or other body changes, such as pregnancy, whereas a tummy tuck can also eliminate excess fat pockets, and repair weakened or separated abdominal muscles. 

Procedure Timelines

Both a panniculectomy and tummy tuck have similar timelines; however, the exact length of time your surgery takes will depend on the extent of the procedure. 

Panniculectomy Timeline

A panniculectomy takes about two to five hours, depending on the length of the incisions being made and the amount of skin benign removed. 

Tummy Tuck Timeline

A tummy tuck takes between two to four hours to complete. 


Good candidates for a panniculectomy are those who have recently lost significant amounts of weight (either through lifestyle changes or as a result of gastric bypass or bariatric weight loss surgery), or experienced another significant body change — such as pregnancy — that has resulted in excess, sagging skin around the abdomen. Candidates may also be experiencing mobility issues, issues with chafing, skin rashes, or hygiene issues due to the excess skin.

Candidates for a tummy tuck may also be those who have recently lost weight, or those who are simply looking to eliminate or reduce stubborn tummy fat and some excess skin. 

In both cases, surgery should not be considered a weight-loss procedure; candidates should be at or very close to their goal weight before undergoing either a panniculectomy or abdominoplasty. 

Cost Differences

Panniculectomy Cost

Depending on the extent of the procedure, a panniculectomy can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $15,000. If there are medical concerns associated with your pannus, such as persistent infections or ulcers, you may be eligible for insurance or OHIP coverage for your procedure, as it may be deemed a medical necessity. 

Tummy Tuck Cost

A tummy tuck procedure starts at $8,999.

Side Effects

Panniculectomy Side Effects

Following a panniculectomy, it is likely you will experience some pain for a few days post-surgery. Your skin may also be numb as a result of two areas of skin being sutured together; this numbness is normal, and can last for several weeks. You may also experience some fluid retention, which can be eliminated through the insertion of drains post-surgery. Because the procedure involves incisions, there will be permanent scarring, but it will be minimal. 

Rare side effects, like infection, heart palpitations, excessive bleeding, chest pain or shortness of breath, require medical attention. 

Tummy Tuck Side Effects

You are likely to experience temporary pain, bruising, and numbness following your tummy tuck. Any excessive bleeding or infection, or symptoms of deep vein thrombosis, require medical attention. Because the procedure involves incisions, there will be permanent scarring, but it will be minimal. 

Procedure Results

In both cases, the results of your surgery are considered permanent. It’s best to maintain your weight following your surgery, in order to avoid compromising the results and altering your new, slender appearance. 

Comparison Chart

Tummy Tuck Panniculectomy
Procedure type Inpatient surgery, with two incisions. Inpatient surgery, with incisions.
Cost Between $3,000 to $15,000. May be covered if surgery is deemed medically necessary.  Starting at $8,999. 
Pain General anaesthesia prevents pain during the procedure itself. Some pain and discomfort, in addition to numbness, may occur for weeks or months following the surgery.  General anaesthesia prevents pain during the procedure itself. Some pain may be experienced in the first weeks following the surgery. 
Number of treatments One procedure One procedure
Results Permanent results if weight is maintained.  Permanent results if weight is maintained. 
Disqualification Pregnancy or plans to be pregnant soon. Diabetes or other chronic conditions may also be disqualifiers.  Pregnancy or plans to be pregnant soon. Smoking and expectation of severe weight fluctuations may also be disqualifying factors. 
Recovery time 4 to 6 weeks Around 8 weeks

You can also read more about the differences between tummy tuck and liposuction procedures in our detailed blog post.

Dr. Thomas Bell | SpaMedica

by Dr. Thomas Bell

Dr. Tom Bell, with over 25 years of practice experience dedicated to cosmetic plastic surgery, pioneered Avenue Road and Yorkville as Toronto’s Beverly Hills of plastic surgery with his first surgical center in Yorkville’s Avenue road corridor back in 1986. Named as Canada’s best plastic surgeon by W magazine and one of the world’s best, Dr. Bell returns home to join the SpaMedica Plastic Surgery team as the reigning King of Plastic Surgery.
Rate MDs | realself
All Posts