Post Weight Loss Surgery
Major weight loss takes hard work and dedication, whether through diet and exercise or with the help of bariatric surgery. Those who do so successfully are often rewarded with better health and greater self-confidence. Unfortunately, a massive weight loss – especially that of 100 pounds or more – can also lead to a new insecurity: excess skin. Though the fat stores may be gone, the skin and supporting structures that were once stretched out to hold the fat in place are not.
The body is capable of storing and accommodating fat nearly anywhere, from the face and arms to the hips, buttocks, thighs, and abdomen. When fat stores are dramatically reduced in any particular area, the elasticity in the skin may not be capable of conforming to the body’s new shape. For a lot of people, the sagging folds of skin that remain after losing weight can be a source of embarrassment, frustration, and uncomfortable chafing. Since diet and exercise cannot address the problem, many turn to cosmetic surgery to remove loose skin and re-shape problem areas on the body.
Body Contouring: What to Expect
Excess skin can occur nearly anywhere on the body. Some of the most common body contouring and reconstructive cosmetic procedures include:
- Tummy tuck
- Lower body lift
- Breast lift
- Arm lift
- Thigh lift
Insurance companies vary on their willingness to cover the procedure. Though most contouring surgeries are not covered, insurance may cover patients with medical conditions that necessitate the procedure, such as loose abdominal skin that causes recurring sores and painful chafing.
For some patients, surgery is a one-time procedure that addresses problem areas in a single step. For those who experience massive weight loss that leaves sagging skin all over the body, however, multiple procedures may be necessary to achieve the patient’s goals. Typically, skin on the abdomen is removed first. Once the body has recovered from that procedure, additional surgeries may be performed, such as those to remove excess skin and fat on the arms, breasts, and thighs. Some patients may even elect to undergo a facelift if there is a considerable amount of laxity in the face.
The results of post weight loss surgery are largely dependent upon the patient. If weight is maintained, the results can last indefinitely.
Candidates for Surgery
Not everyone will require body contouring surgery after weight loss. Some will feel confident with their post-weight loss appearance. Others may have very little or no sagging skin at all thanks to good genes or young age. However, the degree of excess skin a person has usually comes down to the amount of weight that was lost, how fast it was lost, and how evenly the weight was distributed on the person’s body.
A patient must generally be in good health in order to qualify for body contouring surgery. In addition, the patient’s weight must have stabilized, as fluctuations in weight are harmful to long-term surgical outcomes. A pre-surgery consultation is used to evaluate each patient on a case-by-case basis and determine if and when body contouring could be a practical solution.