How is surgery after significant weight loss performed?
Smoking slows down the healing process and increases the risk of serious complications during and after surgery. You will be instructed to quit smoking at least six weeks prior to surgery.
Individuals with a positive outlook and realistic goals for what body contouring can accomplish are also good candidates for body contouring procedures.
There are a variety of body contouring procedures that can treat your needs after significant weight loss. Your plastic surgeon will work with you to identify areas that are the most problematic or bothersome to you.
The areas of the body that are most often treated through body contouring after significant weight loss include Abdomen.
Also known as a “tummy tuck,” abdominoplasty involves removing excess skin and tightening of the underlying abdominal muscles. An incision is made just above the pubic area from hip to hip, occasionally extending to the back. Sometimes a vertical incision is necessary, too.
A panniculectomy removes any overhanging ?apron? of skin and tissue from below the belly button. Having the abdominal muscles tightened or extending the incision to the back is most often considered cosmetic and is not usually covered by insurance.
At times, an abdominal hernia may be found. Hernias up to a certain size can be repaired at the same time of the removal of excess abdominal skin. However, your plastic surgeon may refer you to a general surgeon if the hernia is too large to be repaired during the abdominal procedure.
A body lift, or belt lipectomy, is a procedure to remove skin and lift the thighs and buttocks. This is usually performed as a continuation of an abdominal procedure.
The incision is made in the belt area in the upper hips and excess skin is removed below the incision.
A medial thigh lift, designed to remove excess skin from the upper leg, involves an incision along the inner thigh starting at the groin and extending as far as the knee.
A number of breast procedures are available, including breast lift with or without augmentation (enlargement with implants) and breast reduction. To remove excess skin, incisions can be made vertically down the center of the breast. Sometimes incisions are made underneath the breast in the form of an upside-down “T.”
During surgery to remove excess skin from the arms (brachioplasty), an incision is made starting at the armpit and extending to the elbow. Sometimes this procedure can be combined with a breast procedure.
Face and neck
What results can I expect?
Removing excess skin around the face or neck after weight loss is similar to a traditional facelift, except that more skin is removed. As a result, incision location may need to be altered.
A combination of body contouring surgeries may be done at the same time, as long as safety can be maintained. An “upper body lift” may include a combination of surgeries to the arms, back, and breasts/chest.
A “lower body lift” may include combination surgeries to the hips, thighs, abdomen, and buttocks. The exact procedures to be performed at one time will be individualized to your needs through a thorough consultation with a plastic surgeon at Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center.
The results of body contouring surgery after significant weight loss are visible almost immediately. However, it may take as many as one to two years or more for the final results of all the recommended body contouring procedures to fully develop. Visible scars from surgery will remain, but the overall results are long lasting if you maintain a stable weight and general, overall fitness.
Is surgery after significant weight loss safe?
Possible risks of body contouring surgery following significant weight loss include:
- Unfavorable scarring
- Bleeding (hematoma)
- Fluid accumulation
- Poor wound healing
- Skin loss
- Numbness or other changes in skin sensation