Leaving the Extra Skin Behind
Losing a lot of weight takes resolve and discipline, and can be incredibly satisfying. That satisfaction can be diminished if there’s a lot of loose, extra skin left behind. This is the reason why some people that undergo major weight loss end up consulting a plastic surgeon.
A body lift is a surgical procedure that is done to eliminate sagging skin on the body, often incorporating several procedures that tighten the abdomen, thighs, and buttocks. Other procedures such as a facelift, arm lift, and breast lift may be included in the total surgical plan.
Excess flab around the midsection stretches the skin as well as the abdominal muscles. Most times the skin can’t snap back into position after weight loss. A tummy tuck gets rid of the redundant abdominal skin, and tightens the stretched tummy muscles, leaving the abdomen flatter and firmer.
The incision for surgery is generally made just above the pubic area, so it’s well-hidden after healing. Recovery takes about 7-10 days.
Arm lift surgery (brachioplasty) eliminates sagging skin on the upper arms. It is sometimes done in conjunction with liposuction if there’s a lot of excess fat.
Brachioplasty is performed on an outpatient basis using general anesthesia, and takes about 1-3 hours. Depending on the amount of skin that has to be removed, the incisions may extend down the inside of the arm. There may be some swelling and bruising immediately after surgery, and it can take several weeks for these symptoms to resolve.
Significant weight loss can also cause the skin on the buttocks to sag, making it look deflated. A buttock lift is designed to trim away any extra skin and reshape the buttocks. Silicone implants or fat transfer may be used to restore lost volume and fullness.
There is generally some pain and swelling after surgery, and recovery takes about 4-6 weeks.
Hanging skin on the thighs is also common after significant weight loss. Thigh lift surgery eliminates the loose skin on the inner and outer thighs and tightens the remaining skin to improve the contours of the legs. If there is a lot of fatty tissue present, liposuction is recommended to remove it.
Thigh lift surgery is usually performed in an outpatient setting under general anesthesia. Recovery takes about 3 weeks, but strenuous activity should be avoided for 4-6 weeks.
A Good Candidate
If you think you may be a good candidate for body contouring surgery, it’s advisable to consult with a board certified plastic surgeon with experience in plastic surgery after weight loss. Take the time to carefully discuss the various options, and determine which procedures would be most appropriate for you.
Doctors generally recommend that patients considering body contouring surgery after massive weight loss maintain a reasonably stable weight for at least 12 months prior to surgery.