Will Insurance Pay For My Abdominal Panniculectomy?

Q: Dr. Eppley,  I have poor elasticity and a pannus that is causing problems sitting and walking. However I’m not that obese at 175. My skin is just weird after years of battling anorexia and bulimia. I’m in recovery now and off weight causing meds (depakote and seroquel). I don’t like liposuction outcomes and want to avoid that. I am hoping you can tell me that this is just from atrophy and break down of muscle from my disorders, and healthy work with weights and aerobic exercise and good meal plan can get rid of my thin skinned pannus covering mainly groin and hips (not over pubis). It’s causing pinching pain when I walk or sit and sweat related problems like chaffing. It’s  getting worse even though I’m losing weight to hopefully go back to my previous set-point of about 133. I should add that I’m an apple with a lot of adipose fat in relation to my hips. Also, I am wondering if my insurance might cover a panniculectomy, and if that is an option for me. Thanks for you time.

A: No abdominal pannus can ever be removed short of excisional surgery. Skin excess will not disappear with exercise, diet or even any form laser or ‘skin-tightening’ liposuction. Only a panniculectomy or amputational abdominoplasty will work. This is a surgical problem. When it comes to potential insurance coverage, your description of your pannus sounds like it would not qualify. One of the clear insurance coverage criteria for an abdominal panniculectomy is that the pannus hangs over the groin crease onto the thighs.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana