Body Contouring Surgery for Massive Weight Loss Patients
Losing weight is a laudable accomplishment. A slimmer waist can mean a better long-term health outlook and a strong sense of self-esteem, not to mention an improvement in the perception of your body image. Often, however, losing a substantial amount of weight can leave uncomfortable reminders of the body you left behind: excess tissue. Having lost much of its elasticity, excess skin can remain after a substantial weight loss. Because many of our patients express continued discomfort at the notion of exposing this skin, the weight loss journey can often feel incomplete.
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What is Body Contouring Surgery?
Body contouring surgery after massive weight loss completes that journey by removing excess, and often sagging, fat and skin to improve the overall shape and tone of your body. The procedure is designed to improve the look and tone of your tissue. Many of our patients have commented that they now feel more comfortable going for a walk in shorts or going shopping in a skirt.
This procedure is intended for patients with a history of obesity who have lost a significant amount of weight with diet and exercise or those who have undergone a gastric bypass. Because of severe stretching from obesity, many areas of the skin lose elasticity. Common areas treated with body contouring are the abdomen, upper arms, breasts, hips, thighs and buttocks. Additional areas that are sometimes also corrected include the neck, flanks, back, and knees. Surgery becomes an option when reshaping of these areas cannot be achieved by diet and exercise alone.
All body contouring surgeries require lengthy incisions to remove excess skin and are often performed in stages. The best approach will be determined for you by your body shape, the condition of your skin, and the goals you and the surgeons at East Coast Advanced Plastic Surgery discuss.
Am I a good candidate for body contouring?
One or more of the following may indicate you are a good candidate for body contouring;
- Your weight loss has stabilized and you are in good physical condition, and are well-nourished
- You are bothered by your appearance after significant weight loss
- You are committed to your new healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise and proper nutrition
- You have loose or sagging skin around your upper arms, abdominal area, buttocks, groin, thighs, or breasts
During your consultation, one of the surgeons from East Coast Advanced Plastic Surgery will conduct an examination and discuss with you your expected outcome and determine whether your desires can realistically be achieved. You must come prepared to discuss your full medical history, including any medical conditions, previous surgeries or treatments, drug allergies, current medications, and use of alcohol, tobacco or illegal substances.
Special Considerations for Body Contouring
- Age: Body contouring surgery can be performed at any age, but you must be able to withstand the stress of surgery.
- Weight: It is important that you complete your weight loss prior to surgery, otherwise the problems may reappear. Afterward, it will be essential to maintain your weight, as gaining significant weight after body contour surgery will be extremely damaging to your sensitive skin, causing stretch marks and worsening scars.
- Pregnancy: It is also important to inform the team at East Coast Advanced Plastic Surgery if you are considering having children in the future. Pregnancy can cause unpredictable body changes and can affect the long-term results of your surgery.
Surgery and Recovery
Body contouring may be performed as an outpatient surgery or in a hospital with an overnight stay. Depending on the specifics of your case, the procedure may be performed with either general anesthesia or local anesthesia combined with sedation. After a few hours, or possibly a full day of recovery, you will be permitted to go home. Your incisions will be wrapped in gauze dressings and may include drain tubes at the site of surgery to prevent the accumulation of fluid. You will be given information from our doctors detailing normal symptoms, signs of complications, and instructions for recovery.
You should be able to walk immediately following surgery and be up and about within a day or two after surgery. Your incisions will be tender to the touch for the first few days, and you must not lift, pull or push anything, nor engage in any strenuous activity for at least two to three weeks. Dressings will be removed within several days and you may be required to wear a supportive garment. Swelling and discoloration may occur. Our doctors will recommend follow up visits to evaluate your healing process. It is important to follow your doctor’s orders for the best outcome. Depending on your particular goals, expectations, and the level of body contouring desired, it may take multiple surgeries over many months or years to see final results.
Once you see those final results, however, you can feel confident that your weight loss journey has finally come to completion.