When you’ve lost a dramatic amount of weight, you deserve to celebrate the victory you’ve achieved after dedicating yourself to an active lifestyle and nutritious diet, not to mention the courage it takes to undergo bariatric surgery after years of chronic obesity. However, the sight of the excess skin left behind from your pre-weight loss body can rain on your parade.
If you’re discouraged by drooping skin, you’re not alone: excess skin on the chest, breasts, abdomen, back, neck, or face is a common occurrence in individuals who have lost a substantial amount of weight in a relatively short amount of time. There’s no shame in feeling uncomfortable or disappointed, especially if you were visualizing a tightened, toned body after reaching your weight-loss goal. Excess skin isn’t just bad for your body image: it can also cause painful physical problems such as rashes and back pain.
Although continuing to stay active and eating healthy will help you to tone and build muscle, if you’ve experienced substantial weight loss, sometimes the only way to get rid of excess skin is through surgical means. If this describes your situation, Toronto-area plastic surgeon Dr. Rodger Shortt recommends that you consider a procedure called a body contouring or body lift. Here are some important things to know as you undergo the last phase of your weight loss journey.
Your weight loss must be stabilized for 6 months.
In order to achieve optimal recovery and results, your body needs to have entered a period known as a “nutritional-steady state,” which means it isn’t prone to dramatic fluctuations in weight. If you lose or gain weight in excess of 1-2 pounds after the body contour procedure, sagging skin could recur.
Body contouring can involve multiple procedures.
Depending on the location of excess skin, your body lift can involve a face/neck lift, breast lift or male breast reduction, arm lift, tummy tuck, buttocks lift, thigh lift, and a procedure called a panniculectomy (removal of fatty tissue and skin that overhangs the pubis after massive weight loss). Some of these procedures can be performed at the same time, but you and your plastic surgeon should discuss the safest plan of action.
Part of your body lift may be covered by health insurance.
Depending on the severity and symptoms associated with the excess “apron” overhanging from your belly, a panniculectomy may be insured. Such symptoms include pain, chronic skin irritation, or skin infections. Another common procedure covered by insurance is breast reduction, since debilitating back pain is commonly associated.
Recovery will take about 6 weeks and you’ll need help.
After your surgery, small, temporary drains may be placed under the skin to remove excess fluids post-op. Some abdominal or thigh tightening procedures require you to avoid bending, standing fully upright, or lifting for at least the first week. It’s best to have someone stay with you for the first night or two to help out as you get back on your feet.
As with any surgical procedure that uses general anesthesia, body contouring involves potential risks and complications. Your surgeon should review your medical history to determine any health risks associated with general anesthetics.
The personal transformation you undergo when you experience massive weight loss is life-changing. Body contouring surgery is a final step in the process of your metamorphosis and will help you to finally embrace the new, strong, healthy person you’ve become.
For more information or to request a body contour consultation with Dr. Rodger Shortt, please contact us at 905-849-4282.
On Body Contouring:
Shrivastava, P., Aggarwal, A., & Khazanchi, R. K. (2008). Body contouring surgery in a massive weight loss patient: An overview. Indian Journal of Plastic Surgery : Official Publication of the Association of Plastic Surgeons of India,41(Suppl), S114–S129.
On Canadian Insurance coverage: