You’ve already cleared the first hurdle!
You have a lot to be proud of after dramatic weight loss. The process of making lifestyle changes and improving your health can be very difficult, and not many people succeed. However, when you reach your goal, there might be one last issue holding you back: the loose skin left behind.
As our body’s protective barrier, our skin has the ability to snap back when pulled or expanded. This is called elasticity. However, with age and heavy stretching, our skin begins to lose some of its elasticity and may not be able to spring back after weight loss. This is the most common issue people with dramatic weight loss face, and the most common reason they pursue plastic surgery.
“Dealing with dramatic weight loss can be extremely emotional for patients,” says Dr. Greg Bormes, a plastic and cosmetic surgeon at Geisinger Community Medical Center. “They are often looking forward to seeing themselves without the excess weight, but loose skin dampens that excitement and can cause a host of new confidence issues.”
Here’s what you need to know about post-weight-loss plastic surgery.
Types of surgery
There are a handful of different types of surgery to reduce the appearance of excess skin. Your doctor will help choose the best option for you based on your skin type, desired surgery sites and other potential issues.
The most common types are a panniculectomy, body lift and tummy tuck.
- A panniculectomy is named for the removal of the pannus, or the area of overhanging skin at the lower abdomen that is commonly pronounced after childbirth or major weight loss. This procedure focuses primarily on the removal of the skin so it does not become irritated, rather than contouring or improving the look of skin.
“In a panniculectomy, your doctor will make an incision at the very bottom of the abdominal area to remove remaining fat deposits and extra skin,” explains Dr. Bormes. “Importantly, this procedure does not include removing excess skin above the belly button.”
- Body lifts—whether they are in the arms, abdomen, lower body or thighs—are procedures designed with aesthetic improvement at the forefront. During the procedure, an incision is made around the entire circumference of the affected area and your surgeon will remove all extra skin and remaining fat cells.
“These types of lifts can be done on pretty much any area of the body,” says Dr. Bormes, “but they can be somewhat invasive and are reserved for those who underwent dramatic weight loss.”
- An abdominoplasty, also known as a tummy tuck, doesn’t require a history of obesity or major weight loss to be effective, but it can include removing extra skin and the reducing stretch marks between the belly button and the pubic area.
“In a tummy tuck, your surgeon will cut around the belly button to remove fat and extra skin,” explains Dr. Bormes. “Then the skin will be repositioned, and belly button will be brought through. Scars are usually visible along the bikini line, but their appearance depends on other factors, like skin health.”
Surgery and recovery
In all, making the decision to seek plastic surgery isn’t easy. Most surgeries require weeks of recovery, and your full medical history must be considered. For example, if you smoke, have heart issues or have mobility issues, you may not be a candidate. You may also be required to complete a psychological evaluation.
“Even if you’re not sure about receiving cosmetic surgery, a consultation with a plastic surgeon who is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery may be the right choice,” adds Dr. Bormes. “That way you can ask questions and discuss your ideal results, compared to the realities of the procedure.”
Considering cosmetic or plastic surgery? Geisinger is here to help you look and feel your best
If you’re thinking about a cosmetic or reconstructive procedure to enhance your physical appearance, Geisinger’s plastic surgeons are here to help develop a personalized treatment plan based on your unique needs. Geisinger plastic surgeons, offer the latest surgical and non-surgical treatment options in a comfortable, state-of-the-art setting.
To make an appointment or schedule a consultation with a Geisinger plastic surgeon, call 800-675-2401 or visit Geisinger.org.