Pfannenstiel Incision: The Bikini Line Abdominal Incision

When the Bikini Line Incision Is Used

Pfannenstiel incision, cesarean bikini line incision, c-section incision
The Dotted Line Represents the Pfannenstiel Incision. © National Institutes of Health

Commonly referred to as a bikini line incision, a Pfannenstiel incision is done to allow access to the lower area of the abdomen. Specifically, it is the low, horizontal incision used for some cesarean section procedures and other surgeries performed on the female reproductive system. It can also be used when performing a hernia repair, depending on the location of the hernia.

Why The Pfannenstiel Incision is Used

The benefits of this incision, versus a vertical incision that begins above the pubic bone and stops near the belly button, include a less noticeable scar that can hide in the abdominal fold or pubic hair.

This incision typically heals faster than the vertical incision because less stress is placed on the incision as it heals.

The Pfannenstiel incision is typically used for cosmetic reasons. When compared to the vertical incision, the horizontal incision allows the surgeon to see less of the internal organs, and it has a higher likelihood of bleeding.

Good wound care is essential with a Pfannenstiel incision, to speed healing and prevent infection. The placement in the fold of the abdomen can increase the chances of infection, so wound care is paramount to minimize scarring.


Pfannenstiel Incision. Atlas of Pelvic Surgery. Accessed August, 2013.

Pronunciation: Fan-In-Steel

Also Known As: bikini line incision

Common Misspellings: fanensteel, faninsteel, pfanenstiel, pfanensteel,

Examples: The pregnant woman asked about the Pfannenstiel incision because she was worried her cesarean scar would show when she was on the beach.

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