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imageBackgroundObesity remains a significant health problem associated with considerable morbidity and mortality. Panniculectomy in the obese patient population aims at treating complications related to excess abdominal skin in an attempt to improve quality of life, increase mobility, and potentially prepare the patient for subsequent bariatric surgery or enrollment in a weight-loss program. We describe the indications and outcomes of “supersize” panniculectomy in the extreme obesity patient population.
Patients and MethodsA Duke University institutional review board–approved retrospective chart review of patients who underwent a “supersize” panniculectomy by a single surgeon during a 6-year period was conducted. Data on patient demographics, operative indication, preoperative imaging, concomitant operations, and postoperative complications were collected.
ResultsTwenty-six patients underwent a “supersize” panniculectomy for indications including immobility secondary to excess abdominal skin, panniculitis, ventral hernia, and presence of a gynecologic tumor. The mean pannus resection weight was 15.6 kg and the mean follow-up was 15.7 months. Twelve patients underwent preoperative abdominal computed tomographic imaging. Eleven patients underwent concomitant surgical procedures at the time of their panniculectomy. The overall wound complication rate for the “supersize” panniculectomy was 42.3% (11/26 patients). However, the rate of major complications, defined as those complications requiring a return to the operating room, was only 11.5% (3/26 patients).
Conclusions“Supersize” panniculectomy is defined as a panniculectomy in the obese patient population with a resected pannus specimen weight greater than or equal to 10 kg, and a pannus formation that extends to the mid-thigh level or below. Despite the obstacles and reported high complication rates, the incidence of major complications in this series justifies the operative intervention in patients with an otherwise therapy-resistant “supersize” pannus. A preoperative computed tomographic imaging may rule out an underlying hernia in most cases and is recommended by the authors.

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