Posted - December 18, 2009

Body Contouring After weight Loss Surgery

Losing weight should make you feel better and look better; however, losing over 100 pounds may leave you with excess layers of skin that are arguably as unattractive as the fat you’ve lost. Body-contouring plastic surgery may be able to address these aesthetic concerns.

What makes body-contouring surgery different from other cosmetic procedures like tummy tucks or breast lifts is the sheer volume of skin removed. Also, body-contouring surgeries usually involve more than one area of the body, which makes for a longer and more expensive procedure.

Possible types of body-contouring procedures include a lower body lift (which covers the outer thighs, tummy, and the area around the midsection), an upper body lift (which includes the back and breasts), and lifts for the arms, inner thighs, face, and neck.

Many body-contouring surgeries are performed by a team of two or more surgeons working together on one patient. The goal is to decrease the amount of time the patient needs to spend under anesthesia, which may decrease the total recovery time needed after surgery. Even with this team approach, it’s not uncommon for body-contouring surgery to last for eight or more hours.

As with any surgery, body-contouring surgery comes with potential complications. Possible risks include wound infection, reopening of wounds requiring surgical drainage, and excess bleeding requiring additional surgery. In rare instances, blood clots have developed. About 15 percent of body-contouring surgical patients will require a blood transfusion as a result of the surgery. Waiting at least a year after weight loss surgery or dramatic weight loss should significantly decrease your risk for complications.

Significant weight loss does not necessarily lead to body-contouring surgery. First of all, whether to not to have the procedure is a personal choice. Second of all, some people are more prone to sagging skin than others. There are several factors that can determine whether or not you’ll need body-contouring surgery after you lose weight.

Factors That Contribute to a Need for Body-Contouring Surgery:

  • Age: People over 40 are more likely to experience sagging skin.
  • Level of sun exposure: Sun-damage reduces the skin’s elasticity, which can result in sagging.
  • Distribution of weight loss: If you lose a significant amount of weight in one area, you’re more likely to need contouring surgery there.
  • Genetics: Some people are genetically predisposed toward loose skin.
  • How you feel: Ultimately, it comes down to how comfortable you are with your appearance.

If you do find yourself with excessive, sagging skin that you’re unhappy with, body-contouring surgery may be your only option for addressing it. Exercise and creams simply can’t tighten skin; however, it’s important to consider that body-contouring surgery is expensive, costing upwards of $30,000 for a total body lift.

Before You Undergo Body-Contouring Surgery:

  • Stabilize your weight: You should be at your goal weight for at least three months before undergoing body-contouring surgery.
  • Establish a support system: Make sure to have a few people who can help you during recovery.
  • Consider recovery period: Plan to be in recovery for four to six weeks after the procedure.
  • Decide on problem areas: Focus on the parts of your body you’re most uncomfortable with and concentrate your surgical efforts there first.
  • Quit smoking: Quitting smoking will reduce your risk of complications.
  • Eat 50 to 70 grams of protein a day: Protein can help you heal more quickly.

Whether or not body-contouring surgery is right for you ultimately comes down to how you feel about yourself and how much time and money you’re willing to invest in making cosmetic changes to your appearance. Body-contouring surgery, while expensive, is often seen as the final investment in your overall weight loss plan.