Recent studies of panniculectomy outcomes have reported variable complication rates ranging from 8.65% to 56%. Meanwhile, reported abdominoplasty complication rates are considerably lower (~4%). This discrepancy may be attributable to inaccurate inclusion of abdominoplasty patients in panniculectomy cohorts. We performed the current study to better characterize panniculectomy complication rates at a large tertiary care center.
We performed a retrospective review of patients who underwent abdominoplasty or panniculectomy at the Johns Hopkins Hospitals between 2010 and 2017. Patients were identified by Common Procedural Terminology codes (15847/17999, 15830) confirmed via the operative note. We examined postoperative complication rates including surgical site infection, seroma formation, wound dehiscence, readmission/reoperation, and postoperative length of stay (LOS). We used parametric and nonparametric methods to determine differences between abdominoplasty and panniculectomy outcomes, as well as logistic regression analysis to evaluate factors associated with patient outcomes following panniculectomy.
Of the 306 patients included, 103 underwent abdominoplasty while 203 underwent panniculectomy. Initial complication rates following abdominoplasty and panniculectomy were 1.94% and 12.8%, respectively (P = 0.002). Thirty-day complication rates were 9.7% for abdominoplasty and 21.2% for panniculectomy (P = 0.012). The median LOS was 1 day (interquartile range, 0–1 day) for abdominoplasty and 2 days (interquartile range, 1–4 days) for panniculectomy (P = 0.002). No statistically significant differences in complication rates at 6 months and 1 year were observed.
Panniculectomy offers many functional benefits including improved hygiene and enhanced mobility. However, this study demonstrates that panniculectomy patients may have significantly higher complication rates initially and 30 days postoperatively and longer LOS than individuals undergoing abdominoplasty.