What is an Apron Belly and What Causes It?

Fighting extra stomach fat is difficult enough, but things can get downright uncomfortable and even painful if you progress to an apron belly. Sometimes called a mother’s apron and technically known as a pannus stomach, an apron belly is a stomach that hangs in front of you. Ironically this can be caused by many life changes, including weight gain as well as significant weight loss. Whatever the cause, an apron belly can pull on your upper body and cause pain while chafing and potentially creating open sores in the belly crease.

What is an Apron Belly?

A lot of people carry some extra fat in their abdomens but that’s not quite the same as an apron belly, or pannus. In the case of an apron belly, extra fat and skin on the stomach actually sags, hanging down in front of your body. In mild cases, an apron belly may simply hang below your belly button or fall over the waistband of your pants. In more extreme cases, the apron of skin and fat may hang in front of your thighs or reach down almost to the knees.

Many people who struggle with an apron stomach are understandably quite self-conscious and embarrassed about the condition, which can cause emotional distress. Apron belly creates physical problems, as well. Depending on the size of the pannus, it can make it difficult to walk or be mobile. It can also cause back pain and other problems as the weight of the stomach pulls on the upper body. The crease beneath an apron belly is also an area of concern, frequently chafing and becoming quite sore, sometimes creating open ulcers in the skin.

What Causes Apron Belly?

There are several different potential causes for an apron stomach. The cure for the problem may depend on the cause, so it’s good to know what triggered the development of your apron belly.


When we gain weight, we don’t get to decide where it goes. Although rare, sometimes this extra fat deposits itself into the stomach in such a way that a pannus forms. It’s more likely that you will develop a pooch on your lower abdomen or a bit of overall stomach flab, but the formation of a pannus is a possibility.

Weight Loss

Just as weight gain can cause an apron belly, so can weight loss. When you lose a large amount of weight, your skin likely won’t be able to tighten back to its original position. The result is often a large apron of extra skin that hangs from your stomach. Unfortunately, no amount of dieting or exercising will correct this problem. It’s simply a manifestation of the fact that the skin has been stretched too far for too long, and surgically removing it is the only option.


Pregnancy is a beautiful time, but it can leave behind some unwanted changes to your body, and an apron belly is one of them. This is why the condition is sometimes referred to as a mother’s apron.

During pregnancy, your abdominal muscles stretch and sometimes tear apart from each other. This tear creates a vertical split between them that usually can’t heal itself, thus allowing the stomach to sag and hang in ways that it didn’t before pregnancy. Even if your muscles managed to stay intact during your pregnancy, they will be separated during a c-section if you need one. This can cause a pooch in some women or a more pronounced apron belly in others.


If truth in advertising applied to menopause, the tag line would probably read, “Menopause: Come for the hot flashes, stay for the belly fat.” During the hormonal changes of menopause, fat from your thighs and hips may migrate to your belly. You may also gain weight, and most women complain that all of this extra lands squarely in the belly. As is true of pregnancy, this can lead to a pooch in some women or a full-blown apron belly in others.

So, What Can Be Done About Apron Belly?

The good news about apron belly is that you don’t have to live with it. There are several different plastic surgery options at your disposal that can help solely with apron belly or fix an apron belly while addressing other cosmetic concerns.

Tummy Tuck

During a tummy tuck your doctor will make an incision low on your abdomen and remove the excess fat that hangs there. While performing a tummy tuck, your surgeon will also surgically repair any tears, weaknesses, or defects in your abdominal muscles. Doing so will correct damage caused by a pregnancy, c-section, or other injuries.


A panniculectomy is a surgical procedure designed only to remove the excess fat and skin that comprise an apron belly. The finished results will look like a tummy tuck, but the surgeon doesn’t repair the abdominal wall during this procedure. This surgery is a good choice if your apron belly is the result of menopausal changes and not damage to your abdomen.

Lipo 360

If you’re struggling with an apron belly and a bit of extra fat around your entire midsection, lipo 360 may be an option for you. Easily added to a tummy tuck or panniculectomy procedure, a lipo 360 will remove excess fat in the abdomen as well as the flanks and lower back. By doing so, your surgeon creates a newly sculpted midsection for you that looks great from any angle.

Mommy Makeover

Although it can technically involve any combination of procedures that are safe to perform together, a mommy makeover typically involves a tummy tuck and a breast surgery such as an augmentation or a lift. If you have multiple cosmetic concerns you wish to address, combining several procedures into a mommy makeover allows you to pay only one surgical facility fee, undergo general anesthesia once, and take only one recovery period to heal. This can be much more convenient and cost-effective than scheduling multi-le procedures.

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