The decision to have bariatric weight loss surgery can be life-changing, resulting in significant fat loss and numerous physical and emotional benefits. However, the journey doesn’t typically end with the surgery itself. For many individuals who have undergone bariatric surgery and lost considerable weight, the transformation can present a new set of challenges.
As your body adapts to its new shape, you may find yourself dealing with loose skin around your abdomen, thighs, arms, and other areas. This excess skin can negatively affect your appearance and self-confidence, hindering your ability to fully embrace your weight loss achievements. Additionally, it can pose health risks.
Fortunately, plastic surgery provides a solution. Body contouring procedures are specifically designed to address the excess skin and tissue that may remain after substantial weight loss. By removing the excess skin and tightening the underlying tissues, body contouring can help you achieve the sculpted, contoured appearance that truly reflects your weight loss journey.
This article will delve into how plastic surgery can help you complete your transformation and enhance your well-being after bariatric weight loss. We will discuss the various body contouring options available, such as tummy tucks, thigh lifts, arm lifts, and breast lifts.
By learning more about the potential benefits of these procedures, you can make informed decisions about whether body contouring is the right choice for you.
What is Bariatric Surgery and When it is Needed for Weight Loss
Bariatric surgery is a medical procedure that helps individuals achieve significant weight loss by altering their digestive system, typically by reducing the size of the stomach or bypassing a portion of the small intestine, thus limiting the amount of food consumed and absorbed.
Bariatric surgery is typically recommended for individuals who have been struggling with obesity and have not achieved desired results through diet and exercise alone. It is crucial to understand that bariatric surgery is a foundation for weight loss, providing individuals with a tool to achieve significant weight reduction and laying the groundwork for a healthier lifestyle.
Life After Bariatric Weight Loss: The New You
After undergoing the life-changing journey of bariatric surgery and achieving significant weight loss, a new phase begins. First of all, you will need to consistently follow a healthy diet and exercise regime to avoid regaining the weight. Resistance training is recommended to build muscle, which can help to “fill in” loose skin after weight loss.
However, building muscle alone cannot completely tighten loose skin or eliminate damaged skin. When you gain a significant amount of weight, your skin stretches and becomes damaged. Even if you are young with plenty of collagen and elastin, the damage may already be done and the skin may not recover, leaving you with loose skin and folds. This excess hanging skin can hinder your ability to fully enjoy the results of weight loss and can also lead to medical risks such as skin irritation, rashes, infections, and difficulty maintaining proper hygiene.
To address this excess skin and tissue that remains after weight loss, many people undergo body contouring procedures. These procedures are designed to help remove excess skin and tissue, and are often recommended following bariatric surgery.
What Parts of the Body are Affected after Bariatric Surgery
The areas of the body affected after bariatric surgery are typically those where the skin has stretched to accommodate excess weight. This can vary from person to person, but commonly affected areas include the abdomen, thighs, arms, breasts, and face.
As you shed the pounds, the skin that once stretched to accommodate your previous weight may not fully retract and tighten on its own. This results in excess skin that can hang loosely and affect the overall body shape. The amount of excess skin experienced can vary depending on factors such as the amount of weight lost, age, genetics, and overall skin elasticity.
Why Body Contouring Might Be Needed After Bariatric Surgery
Bariatric surgery is a powerful tool in addressing one of the root causes of weight gain – appetite control. It allows individuals to achieve significant weight loss and experience improved health outcomes. However, it is crucial to dispel a common misconception: that bariatric surgery alone results in a person’s ideal body shape.
While bariatric surgery tackles weight loss, it does not address the changes in body shape that may occur as a result of excess skin and tissue. This is where body contouring surgery becomes essential. By combining bariatric surgery with body contouring, you can address both the underlying causes of weight gain and the physical changes that occur after significant weight loss.
Body contouring procedures remove the excess skin and tissue, sculpting and reshaping specific areas to create a more proportionate and contoured appearance. This comprehensive approach helps individuals truly embrace their weight loss journey and experience the full transformation they desire.
Body Contouring Options Available After Bariatric Surgery
Body contouring plastic surgery offers a range of surgical options to remove excess skin, tighten tissues, and sculpt the body, helping individuals achieve their desired body contours following significant weight loss.
Here is a list of various body contouring options available for you to consider after bariatric surgery that can further enhance your transformation and complete your weight loss journey:
Better known as a tummy tuck, this is the most common body contouring procedure after weight loss. A tummy tuck removes excess skin, known as the “apron” or pannus, from the abdominal area. It may also include tightening the abdominal muscles and repositioning the belly button.
Liposuction is a minimally invasive body contouring technique that uses hollow suction tubes to remove fat through small incisions. While not commonly used as a standalone procedure after significant weight loss, liposuction can be combined with other body contouring surgeries to further refine body contours and improve overall appearance.
Thighs and Buttock Lift
A thigh and buttock lift focuses on these areas to achieve a more toned and contoured appearance. The outer thighs and buttocks are lifted during the procedure, utilizing a single continuous scar along the beltline. For comprehensive improvement, the same scar can also be extended around the back to target the buttocks.
In cases where excess skin on the inner thighs is a concern, the skin can be lifted along the groin crease. In more severe cases, a longer vertical incision may be necessary to achieve optimal skin tightening.
Also known as brachioplasty, an arm lift removes excess skin from the upper arms, resulting in a more contoured appearance. The scar runs along the inner upper arm to the elbow, which is hidden when the arms are down but may be visible when raised.
Breast reshaping procedures, such as breast reduction and breast lift (mastopexy), are performed following weight loss to achieve better size and proportions.
Breast reduction involves removing skin and breast tissue while repositioning the nipple to a higher position. In contrast, a beast lift procedure only removes excess skin while preserving existing breast tissue. In some cases, breast augmentation using implants or tissue from the side of the chest without implants is also desired.
Breast reshaping surgeries are not only reserved for women. After bariatric surgery, many men discover they are still left with male gynecomastia. This male breast enlargement can typically be treated with a combination of liposuction and skin removal..
Face and neck lift procedures target sagging skin, deep creases, and jowls to restore a more youthful and rejuvenated appearance. During the surgery, incisions are strategically placed to minimize visible scarring, and the underlying facial muscles and tissues are tightened and repositioned. Excess skin is then removed, resulting in a firmer and more lifted facial and neck contour.
For individuals seeking non-invasive options, FaceTite is a popular choice. This minimally invasive procedure uses radiofrequency energy to tighten the skin and stimulate collagen production. FaceTite delivers targeted heat to the deeper layers of the skin, resulting in skin contraction and tightening. This non-surgical approach can provide facial rejuvenation with minimal downtime and is an attractive option for those who prefer non-invasive alternatives.
Body lift procedures target different areas of the body and can be customized to each patient’s specific needs. You can have an upper body lift, a lower body lift, or a full body lift.
An upper body lift focuses on the upper back and chest, addressing rolls of skin in those areas. The scars are typically concealed within the bra line. In contrast, a lower body lift involves lifting the outer thighs and buttocks, resulting in a comprehensive lower body transformation.
A full body lift is an extensive procedure combining upper and lower body lifts, providing a complete body transformation. It addresses excess skin and tissue in multiple areas, resulting in a more harmonious and balanced physique.
Most patients have numerous areas of the body that need body contouring following significant weight loss and choose to have multiple procedures done simultaneously for a more comprehensive body reshaping.
It’s important to discuss with your surgeon which combinations are reasonable and suitable for your specific case. The extent of surgery should be based on your goals, overall health, and the surgeon’s expertise.
When Is the Right Time to Consider Plastic Surgery After Substantial Weight Loss?
Deciding when to consider body contouring plastic surgery after substantial weight loss is a personal choice that depends on various factors.
While there is no definitive timeline, it is generally recommended to wait until you have reached a stable weight and your weight loss has plateaued. This allows your body to adjust and ensures that your surgical outcomes will be more predictable and long-lasting.
Here are some key considerations to help determine the right time for plastic surgery after substantial weight loss:
It is crucial to maintain a stable weight for several months before considering plastic surgery. This stability indicates that your body has adapted to its new weight, and further fluctuations are less likely. This stability allows for more accurate assessments and optimal surgical outcomes.
Your overall health plays a significant role in determining the right time for plastic surgery. It is essential to be in good physical health, free from any underlying medical conditions that may pose risks during surgery and recovery. Your plastic surgeon will evaluate your medical history and perform a comprehensive examination to ensure you are an appropriate candidate for surgery.
It is crucial to have realistic expectations and a positive mindset about the potential changes and outcomes. Addressing any underlying body image concerns or emotional issues related to your weight loss journey is recommended before proceeding with surgery.
Many body contouring procedures involve a certain amount of downtime for proper healing. It is essential to plan for an adequate recovery period, allowing yourself enough time to rest, follow post-operative care instructions, and gradually resume normal activities.
The duration of recovery varies depending on the specific procedure performed and the extent of the surgery, as well as a patient’s overall health, genetics, and ability to follow post-op instructions.
The Key to Successful Body Contouring Following Bariatric Surgery
A positive plastic surgery experience lies in understanding your personal goals and expectations. Take the time to reflect on the specific areas of your body that bother you the most and consider whether they warrant surgical intervention.
Prioritize these concerns and determine the level of improvement you desire to achieve satisfaction with the results. By clarifying your priorities before consulting with a plastic surgeon, you empower them to better understand your needs and provide guidance that aligns with your goals. The more informed you are about your priorities, the more effectively your surgeon can assist you.
After thoroughly examining your goals and deciding the right time to have surgery, the most important thing you can do is find a qualified plastic surgeon experienced in post-bariatric body contouring and book a complimentary consultation to discuss specific procedures suitable for your unique needs and goals.
A board-certified plastic surgeon with experience in body contouring procedures will be able to assess your individual circumstances and recommend the most appropriate body contouring options, empowering you to achieve the body shape that reflects your incredible weight loss achievements.
Does Insurance Cover Body Contouring?
One common question when considering body contouring procedures after substantial weight loss is whether insurance will cover the cost. Insurance coverage for body contouring surgeries varies and is typically determined case-by-case.
That said, body contouring procedures are generally considered elective and primarily performed for cosmetic purposes. As a result, they are typically not covered by insurance. However, there are some instances where insurance may provide coverage or partial coverage, particularly if certain criteria are met.
One factor that may increase the chances of insurance coverage is if the body contouring surgery is deemed medically necessary. For individuals who have experienced significant weight loss following bariatric surgery, the excess skin can cause functional problems, such as rashes, infections, or limitations in mobility. In such cases, insurance companies may consider body contouring procedures to address these medical issues.
If insurance coverage is unavailable, many plastic surgeons offer financing options and payment plans to help make body contouring procedures more affordable. During your complimentary body contouring consultation, you should discuss financial considerations to explore all potential avenues for coverage.
Taking the Next Steps Towards Self-Confidence and Well-Being Following Bariatric Surgery
Bariatric surgery is known for successfully reducing body mass index (BMI) and helping individuals achieve significant weight loss. However, bariatric surgery can’t help with the presence of excess, sagging skin that remains.
Post-bariatric body contouring procedures are designed to address this concern by reshaping the body and restoring a sense of normalcy. Through these procedures, the true success of weight loss surgery can be fully realized as the body is sculpted to its ideal proportions, enhancing the overall transformation and boosting self-confidence.
Despite all the positives, embarking on plastic surgery after bariatric weight loss is a significant decision. You should take your time and ask many questions before committing. Our experienced team of board-certified bariatric surgeons and plastic surgeons are here to support you.
We are accepting new patient consultations and are ready to answer any questions you have and provide personalized recommendations to achieve the best possible outcome. Contact us today to take the next step after bariatric weight loss surgery.