Body Contouring Can Provide Final Chapter in Weight Loss Surgery Journey

Procedures help alleviate excess skin, eliminate risk for infections

DAYTON, Ohio (December 10, 2019) – The hundreds of pounds lost from weight loss surgery can create excess skin that often leaves a person with new health issues, and the inability to truly enjoy their new self.

Skin often retracts when a person loses small amounts of weight over time, but the skin is unable to react in the same way when a person loses hundreds of pounds in a matter of months. As a result, large folds of skin are left behind as a reminder of the weight that a person once carried around. And in many cases, the skin needs to be concealed or compressed in order for a person to wear the clothes that fit their body size.

“Even though the actual physical weight has been lifted off of their shoulders, there’s still a big emotional weight that’s tied to this extra skin, and to the new lifestyle they want to lead after bariatric surgery,” said Todd Hicks, MD, a plastic surgeon with Premier Plastic Surgeons.

Body contouring has become an answer for many individuals who are dealing with excessive skin on their body after weight loss surgery. Unlike other forms of plastic surgery aimed only at cosmetic improvements, body contouring after weight loss surgery helps a person to feel better, and helps to reduce health issues that come with excessive skin.

“These surgeries are for real quality of life issues, and these issues weigh emotionally, psychologically, as well as physiologically on a person,” said Dr. Hicks, who practices with Premier Physician Network. “From a patient’s perspective, having extra skin can affect their overall well-being. It can lead to infections and visits to the hospital if it is not taken care of over time.”

Excessive skin left from weight loss surgery can create areas susceptible to infections and rashes. Patients who work with their bariatric surgeon and family doctor to show a recurrent problem with these health issues usually qualify for body contouring through their insurance plans.

Many different types of body contouring procedures can be performed. Procedures are usually done one at a time if multiple types are required to help a person achieve the result they need, Dr. Hicks said.

The following are the most common types of body contouring outlined by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons:

Arm lift – Also known as brachioplasty, this procedure reshapes the under portion of the upper arm, from the underarm region to the elbow.

Breast lift – Also known as mastopexy, this helps raise the breasts by removing excess skin and tightening the surrounding tissue to reshape and support the new breast contour.

Lower body lift – This improves the shape and tone of the underlying tissue that supports skin and fat. Excess sagging skin and fat are removed and the procedure can improve a dimpled, irregular skin surface. Areas of the body that often receive body lifts include the abdominal area, buttocks and thigh.

Tummy tuck – Also known as abdominoplasty, this procedure removes excess fat and skin and, in most cases, restores weakened or separated muscles. A panniculectomy also removes excess skin and fat from the lower abdomen, but doesn’t include the tightening of abdominal muscles.

The recovery and invasiveness of body contouring procedures vary. Most involve incisions that take several weeks to heal, and pain that may takes weeks to months to completely go away.

“Patients are happy that they’ve lost this amount of weight, but still may find they don’t fit into the clothing they want to wear or they find it difficult to go to the gym because of the infections and rashes they experience afterwards,” he said. “For most patients the risk is worth the benefit even though they are invasive procedures and they require several weeks of downtime and several hours under anesthesia.”

For more information about body contouring or to find a Premier Physician Network physician near you, visit our Find a Doctor page.

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