Losing weight is a serious accomplishment, particularly if you’ve managed to lose a lot of weight and keep it off for good. It takes a lot of self-discipline, working against your body and society, and you should be proud of yourself. But what can you do if you lose all that weight only to find that you’re not happy with the results? This happens all the time because people lose weight and are left with a lot of loose skin.
Post-weight loss, loose skin is often concentrated around the waist, upper arms, and chest, and this excess skin can make otherwise remarkable weight loss results less than thrilling, but there is a solution: plastic surgery. Through the proper application of several different procedures, a surgeon can help you complete your body’s transformation, highlighting your hard work.
What Procedures Address Excess Skin?
There are several different procedures that address the problem of excess skin, depending on where on the body it’s located. Among the most common are tummy tucks, arm lifts, and breast lifts. If you’ve lost a very large amount of weight, you may also need skin removal surgery; this is more common in those who have lost weight very quickly, since the skin doesn’t have a chance to contract back. Older patients are also more likely to need skin removal surgery because their skin is less elastic, due to reduced collagen production. Skin removal surgery targeting the area around the lower abdomen is known as a panniculectomy.
Most patients with excess skin require some combination of procedures to get the optimal results, but the procedures are not without risk. In addition to the usual risks associated with surgery, more extreme procedures like panniculectomy can leave significant scarring. For those who are concerned about scarring, a different selection of procedures may be more appropriate.
Why Remove Excess Skin?
In addition to issues of appearance, many people seek plastic surgery after losing a lot of weight because having hanging skin can actually present serious health risks. Specifically, loose skin can lead to infections, because the weight of hanging skin causes tears and the folds breed bacteria. That’s why many doctors will actually recommend that patients undergo these procedures once they’ve reached a stable weight. This isn’t just about how you look, but about your long-term health.
Body Lift Or Tummy Tuck?
Though the distinction may seem confusing at first, lower body lifts and tummy tucks – both common procedures among those who have loose skin – are radically different procedures, with the body lift being far more extreme. In body lift surgery, the surgeon actual performs a skin removal while also drawing up and tightening the skin around the entire lower body; there is also an upper body equivalent that addresses loose skin around the arms and back. As part of a lower body lift, you may also undergo liposuction for additional shaping, a buttock lift, and also buttock augmentation to adjust for the loss of shape, since the buttocks are prone to flattening.
Thought a tummy tuck is similar to a body lift, it targets a much narrower area of the body. Rather than addressing the thighs, waist, stomach, and arms all at once, a tummy tuck generally involved a panniculectomy coupled with tightening of the underlying musculature. Depending on the patient’s need, some patients also undergo additional liposuction.
Often, for patients with extreme weight loss, Dr. Schulman recommends an additional midline abdominal incision, known as a fleur-de-lis incision. Though this leaves an additional scar, it also allows for better contouring and the scars do fade over time, and the fleur-de-lis incision is widely considered to be safer.
Is A Breast Lift Enough?
Breast lifts are another common procedure among those who have lost a lot of weight, but it’s important to recognize that a breast lift may not be enough to address the results of such enormous physical changes. That’s because, while a breast lift repositions the breasts, it doesn’t change the amount of breast tissue or fat in the area. As such, depending on a woman’s final body shape, some may require an additional breast reduction or breast augmentation.
Some women have too much breast issue relative to their new body size, which can lead to back pain, which is why a breast reduction coupled with a breast lift may be appropriate. Others experience something more akin to the buttock flattening mentioned above. For these women, a combination breast augmentation and breast lift may be more appropriate, to create the desired proportions.
Male Breast Reduction – A Common Concern
While breast reduction and augmentation surgeries are commonly discussed, many men who have experienced substantial weight loss are left with “man boobs” – extra flesh around the chest from past fat stores. Unfortunately, this is much harder for men to talk about than for women seeking a breast lift. Many are ashamed to discuss the issue. However, men can also have breast reduction surgery, often combined with chest contouring procedures, which will resolve the problem, creating a more masculine, flat chest.
Arm Lifts And Other Procedures
One of the problems with loose skin following weight loss is that it can exist just about anywhere on the body, from the stomach and arms to the neck and back. Additional procedures like arm lifts, neck skin tightening, and other interventions can address loose skin elsewhere on the body. Every individual has different needs and different areas that they’re concerned about – your doctor will discuss your concerns with you and help you make the best decisions for your body.
Preparing For Post-Weight Loss Plastic Surgery
If you’re considering plastic surgery in New York City of any kind after losing a lot of weight, it’s important to take your time. Dr. Schulman generally require post-weight loss patients to maintain a stable body weight for at least six months before these procedures, so you’ll need to demonstrate that you can remain at this new weight. Additionally, many formerly overweight patients have lingering health issues, ranging from Type 2 diabetes to high blood pressure, which can complicate the surgeries. Maintaining a stable, lower weight for at least a year can sometimes reverse these health issues and make surgery much safer.
Ready to get rid of excess skin after extreme weight loss? Then you need the best on your side. Contact Dr. Matthew Schulman today to learn more about your options for body shaping and contouring. You worked hard to change your life and lose weight – the right surgical procedures just reveal what’s hiding underneath.