How Can I Get Rid Of My Stomach Skin Hangover?

Q: Dr. Eppley, I have bad stretch marks on my stomach and a lot of skin hang over. I’m 5’2 and weigh 159lbs. I have lost 20 pounds and now I’m at a stand still. What can I do now and no amount of exercise seems to work?

A: The skin hangover to which you refer is known as a pannus, which is a fancy word meaning a skin apron. Even if you could lose more weight this abdominal pannus is not going to go away. It is excess skin that can not be lost by diet and exercise. It is excess skin created by pregnancies and weight loss. It is also skin that had lost any ability to shrink or contract as this is clearly demonstrated by the presence of stretch marks. Stretch marks are basically incomplete tears in the skin. This is like making little snips partially through a rubber band, it weakens its ability for elastic recoil. Most abdominal pannuses represent inches of skin (one foot or more) that has been stretched out.

You are correct in stating that exercise is not going to tighten skin nor will any more weight loss. (although there still may be some other medical benefits for more weight loss) This is a surgical problem that will require a large horizontal ellipse of skin and fat removal that will completely eliminate all loose skin over the central abdomen, a procedure otherwise known as a full tummy tuck.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana