General Considerations for Plastic Surgery After Weight Loss
If you have lost a significant amount of weight through bariatric surgery, or diet and exercise, congratulations! You are on the road to a positive transformation, inside and out. By now you most likely feel better, look better, and are doing things you may never have thought possible. You worked hard to get to this stage and should be very proud of your accomplishments.
Unfortunately, reaching your weight loss goal may also bring unwanted excess hanging skin and tissue, which are an unwelcome consequence for those successfully achieving their weight loss goals. Common complaints often heard are, “My clothes are looser, I am working hard to exercise and be healthy, but my body doesn’t look that way”. Or, “I’ve lost all this weight … how come I can’t look as good as I feel?”
Surgical body contouring can help you complete this transformation by removing the sagging skin and excess tissue, improving your body contours, thus complementing the medical benefits derived from dramatic weight loss.
One of the most important considerations that Manhattan plastic surgeon Dr. Schwartz has realized is that a post-bariatric patient’s body contouring must be treated differently than those patients who have not had weight loss surgery. The changes in skin tone and distribution brought upon by dramatic weight loss calls for different surgical techniques and preparation. What has worked well for the non-bariatric patients simply does not provide adequate shaping and contouring for most bariatric patients.
Are you a candidate for body contouring surgery after weight loss?
Patients who are good candidates are in good overall health and can safely undergo general anesthesia or sedation. Patients that have the best cosmetic outcomes usually have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or less, although patients with higher BMI’s may be candidates for certain procedures as well.
What is the best timing for plastic surgery procedures after weight loss?
If you are interested in having body contouring, the operations should be scheduled when your weight has stabilized for at least 6 months to a year. This allows time for the skin to adjust and to overcome weight loss plateaus. It also allows time to acquire new eating habits. Some patients do have surgery when there are a few more pounds to lose as this may reinforce the motivation to maintain healthy habits, or remove stubborn areas that will most likely not be reduced with even the best diet and exercise program.
How many procedures will I need after weight loss?
The answer to this question depends on which areas you want to address and how much time you will allot for your recovery. If you are interested in improving only one area (abdomen, arms, thighs, or face) your concerns can be accomplished in a single operation. If you are interested in multiple areas as most patients are, procedures can often be combined. For example, a tummy tuck may be combined with liposuction and/or a breast lift. Often times, body contouring procedures are combined with other surgical procedures such as a hernia repair or a gynecologic procedure. Patients wishing to improve multiple areas may require three separate procedures to accomplish their goals.
During a consultation with Dr. Schwartz at her practice in New York City, your own anatomy is assessed, as well as your priorities, and then a complete plan is created for total body contouring.
If I am unsure which area bothers me the most what should I treat first after weight loss?
Every dramatic weight loss patient has their body contouring “wish list.” The most commonly performed procedures involve the abdomen, arms, breast/chest, and thighs, and face. While there is no set order which area is addressed first, most patients choose to treat the abdomen/midsection since this causes the most distress and can act as an “anchor” for the other procedures.
Will these procedures be covered by my health insurance?
Body contouring procedures can only be covered by your health insurance if they are deemed “medically necessary,” such as skin irritation from an overhanging skin fold that will not improve with medical treatment. We will work with your insurance company to help you provide proper documentation to authorize these procedures if appropriate. This will be discussed this at the time of your consultation with Dr. Schwartz at his office in New York City.
One of the most problematic areas after massive weight loss is the midsection. Dr. Schwartz can perform a panniculectomy, or an abdominoplasty to remove loose skin from the waist and improve the area’s contours. A circumferential abdominoplasty, also known as a body lift or a belt lipectomy, treats excess bothersome skin that hangs off the abdomen, hips, thighs and buttocks. In addition to relieving skin irritation and rashes, body lift produces a more attractive shape.
Dr. Schwartz suggests the procedure he feels will best meet the patient’s needs and expectations.
Significant weight loss also affects the skin and tissue in a woman’s breasts and a man’s chest. The breast skin slackens and the tissues sag unattractively on the chest. Breast lift (mastopexy) removes excess skin and restores the female breasts to a higher position on the chest. Breast implants can be placed to add volume and shape to “deflated” or flat breasts. Male breast reduction eliminates excessive skin, fat and breast tissue, and restores a flatter and more masculine contour to the male chest.
Arm lift (brachioplasty) treats excess hanging skin and lax tissues on the upper arms. If necessary, liposuction techniques can be incorporated to maximize the result. The operation restores a firm and toned appearance to the upper arms.
Thigh lift treats loose skin and stubborn fat deposits on the upper thighs. This procedure can resolve painful chafing and skin irritation, and improves the appearance and proportion of the thighs.
Losing a significant amount of weight can accelerate the aging process in the face and neck. The skin sags and the face can takes on a prematurely aged, fatigued, or sad appearance. Dr. Schwartz may recommend one or more facial rejuvenation procedures, such as facelift/necklift, eyelift surgery, or fat transfer, to restore a youthful and beautiful expression to the face.
Learn More about Post-Bariatric Plastic Surgery
Schedule a consultation with Dr. Mark H. Schwartz or to find out more about our post-bariatric procedures.