Background: Studies of abdominal wall reconstruction with concurrent panniculectomy have reported contradictory results. The authors hypothesized that patients undergoing abdominal wall reconstruction with concurrent panniculectomy experience more wound healing complications but similar rates of hernia recurrence compared with abdominal wall reconstruction alone. Methods: Of 548 consecutive patients, 305 patients (55.7 percent) underwent abdominal wall reconstruction alone and 243 (44.3 percent) underwent abdominal wall reconstruction with concurrent panniculectomy. Mean follow-up was 30 months. The authors compared these two groups' postoperative complications and outcomes before and after propensity score analysis. Results: Abdominal wall reconstruction with concurrent panniculectomy patients had a significantly higher overall complication rate (38.3 percent versus 29.2 percent; p = 0.025) and a trend toward a higher surgical-site occurrence rate (27.6 percent versus 20.7 percent; p = 0.06) compared with abdominal wall reconstruction alone. There were significantly higher incidences of skin dehiscence (19.3 percent versus 12.5 percent; p = 0.032), fat necrosis (10.7 percent versus 3.6 percent; p = 0.002), and infection abscess (9.5 percent versus 4.3 percent; p = 0.023) but no significant difference in hernia recurrence (6.9 percent versus 11.5 percent; p = 0.27) at long-term follow-up. Propensity score analysis yielded 188 pairs of matched patients with no significant differences in overall complication and hernia recurrence rates. Significantly higher rates of fat necrosis (9.6 percent versus 4.3 percent; p = 0.041) and abscess (10.1 percent versus 3.2 percent; p = 0.007) were observed in the abdominal wall reconstruction with concurrent panniculectomy group. Conclusions: Abdominal wall reconstruction with concurrent panniculectomy is associated with higher wound morbidity but similar surgical-site occurrence and hernia recurrence rates at long-term follow-up. The authors believe that panniculectomy can be safely performed when indicated.
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