You Lost the Weight. Now Lose the Sagging Skin.

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If you’ve lost a dramatic amount of weight, you’ve probably gained a lot of saggy skin. It sags because it no longer has elasticity and won’t conform to your new body size. The result can be rashes and infections from trapped moisture.

Body contouring surgery removes this extra skin from stomach, arms, thighs, buttocks, breasts, and back. “These surgeries aren’t cosmetic,” explains Todd Hicks, MD, FACS with Premier Plastic Surgeons. “They aren't for people who just want to look a little bit better in their swimsuit. These are for real quality of life issues that weigh emotionally, psychologically, and physiologically on the individual. The excess skin can cause infections, rashes and visits to the hospital.”

Am I a Candidate?

To qualify for body contouring surgery with your insurance company, Dr. Hicks says you typically need to have lost 100 or more pounds as a result of weight loss surgery, or diet and exercise. “And then your new weight needs to remain stable for approximately six months to a year,” he says. “We don’t want to remove skin if you are still losing weight because you may develop more excess skin as your weight stabilizes.” Documenting your rashes and infections will help prove to your insurance company that this is a longstanding problem, and typically they will cover your procedure, according to Dr. Hicks.

If the “new you” is the result of weight loss surgery, Dr. Hicks says it’s important that you are adhering to your post-surgery diet. “The diet ensures you’re getting lots of protein, which is necessary for good wound healing.” Smokers generally don’t qualify for surgery, “and we have to make sure you have no issues related to your heart or lungs, which is true of any surgery that involves general anesthesia.”

What Are the Risks Of Surgery?

Body contouring surgeries can last several hours. “There is always a risk when you are under general anesthesia for that amount of time,” says Dr. Hicks. “And there’s always a risk of bleeding and infection.”

“It’s common to have areas of your body that are slow to heal. Big areas can take a long time,” says Dr. Hicks. “That’s why we spend a lot of time educating our patients about their diet, which can affect healing.”

Is the Surgery Painful?

Although the results of body contouring surgery can provide you a healthier, more satisfying life, the surgery has its challenges. Incisions can take several weeks to heal, “and you’ll have pain that may take weeks or months to completely go away,” says Dr. Hicks. “Sometimes patients are frustrated because they still can’t fit into certain clothes, or it’s difficult to go to the gym because of rashes or infections as the wounds heal.” In spite of several weeks of downtime, Dr. Hicks says “for most patients the risk is worth the benefit.”

Are Results Permanent?

It’s important to maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle following surgery. “If you gain or lose a lot of weight, then of course the results of your surgery will change,” says Dr. Hicks. “But if your weight remains fairly stable, the results will last for years. Obviously everyone’s skin changes as we age, so results aren’t permanent, but they should last a long time.”

To learn more about body contouring surgery, talk to your doctor or health care provider or search for a provider

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