Bariatric surgery is a term used to encompass several types of surgery performed on the stomach or intestines with the primary purpose of helping someone with morbid obesity lose a significant amount of weight. If you have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above, or you have health problems (including high blood pressure or diabetes) as a result of being severely overweight, you may be a good candidate for bariatric surgery – and you’re not alone.
More and more people are choosing to undergo bariatric surgery to help them with weight loss. In 2016, over 216,000 people underwent bariatric surgery, up from 158,000 in 2011.
So once you’ve lost all of that weight, you may be feeling much better, but struggling with an entirely different issue – excess skin. Not only does being overweight stress your bones, joints, heart, and muscles, but it has a significant impact on your skin as well. Being overweight stretches your skin, and lack of physical activity affects your muscle and skin tone. So once you’ve lost your weight, you may be healthier and more active, but still, have excess skin to contend with.
I’ve seen it for years in my bariatric surgery patients, losing weight after bariatric surgery is only one of the steps towards giving you back your confidence. If you have significant excess skin, you may not be able to fully enjoy the results of your hard work from your bariatric surgery. It is rewarding for me to be able to offer several procedures to patients that have successfully lost weight that help to eliminate redundant skin and create a treatment plan that will provide the safest, most beautiful results.
WHAT PROCEDURES ARE BEST AFTER BARIATRIC SURGERY?
Once you’ve lost weight after being obese, your skin and other tissues that have been stretched out to accommodate the extra fat have lost their elasticity, and can’t “snap back” to conform tightly around your new shape. Without underlying muscle to support the tissue, it begins to sag and droop. Every patient has a unique pattern of skin excess and different priorities. Some common procedures are:
- Abdominoplasty: An Abdominoplasty procedure addresses the “apron” of skin that tends to hang down after an abdominal weight loss
- Lower body lift: This procedure corrects sagging in the abdomen, groin, outer thighs and buttocks
- Thigh lift: This procedure lifts and contours sagging in the outer, inner and mid-thigh areas
- Arm lift (brachioplasty): This procedure removes excess skin and contours the upper arms
- Breast lift (mastopexy): This procedure lifts and reshapes sagging breasts that have lost volume and can be combined with a breast augmentation
- Facelift: This procedure addresses the jowls, lower face and tightens the neck. This can be combined with Blepharoplasty
(upper and lower eyelid surgery) and Brow Lift.
Each of the above surgeries is designed to improve tone and restore the proper shape to the underlying tissues by removing excess skin and fat. The result is a more slender body with a smoother, more contoured shape.
ARE YOU A CANDIDATE FOR BODY CONTOURING SURGERY?
One of the most important factors to consider when planning for plastic surgery after weight loss is whether you have gotten to your goal weight and maintained that weight. You will want to get the best possible results from your surgeries, so avoiding weight fluctuations are key.
Additionally, being at a stable, healthy weight is necessary to minimize your risks for complications during and after your body contouring surgery. Ideally, you should be a non-smoker with a BMI under 30, who has been cleared for elective surgery by your primary care physician. This means you have no medical conditions that may increase your risk of complications or inhibit your healing after plastic surgery.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM POST-WEIGHT LOSS PLASTIC SURGERY
Your post-weight loss plastic surgery journey is going to take time and patience. Your results will be the finishing touches of months and even years of your dedication and hard work. It is essential that you understand that not everything can be done at once. There are typically several areas on your body that require some degree of contouring so it is best for you that your surgeries be staged. This will make your recovery more manageable, and most importantly, ensure your safety and proper healing.
When I meet with post-bariatric surgery patients, I talk with them about their goals and evaluate their case. Together, we will create a specific treatment plan for each individual patient. As we create the patient’s treatment plan, it includes prioritizing his or her problem areas and combine procedures that will efficiently and safely meet that patient’s goals.
For most patients, you will require a minimum of three to six months between surgeries to allow your body adequate time to completely heal. Some results will be noticeable immediately, but it can take anywhere from six months to a year for your results.
You will be able to enjoy the results of your weight loss and body contouring for years to
come, providing that you maintain a stable, healthy weight.
Gaining and losing weight will cause the same issues that you had previously – stretching your skin and leaving behind pockets of excess skin and fat, so it is important that you stay on target. It is also essential that you have realistic expectations for your surgery results. No matter how skilled your surgeon may be there will be scarring. We look forward to partnering with you on your journey to reaching your goals and optimal results.