Body Contouring After Major Weight Loss
Your physical transformation after bariatric surgery or other major weight loss can be exhilarating. But your greatest cause for celebration may be that your health is being restored. However, as you begin to engage in physical activities you previously thought impossible, you may find it difficult to move freely if loose skin hampers your range of motion. You may not feel comfortable wearing more revealing athletic outfits. You may also find it difficult to fit into regular clothes. Pockets and folds of extra skin are common after major weight loss. That's why there are cosmetic procedures specifically designed to help you fit into your own skin.
Those who have undergone major weight loss need to be treated with special care, especially since this weight loss often occurs in a relatively short period of time. The surgeons at Kaiser Permanente Cosmetic Services centers are experienced in not only your specific cosmetic procedure, but helping you through the many adjustments you'll need to make after your surgery.
The whole picture
When the body is recontoured using traditional cosmetic surgery, there is usually only one area that is targeted for reshaping. With major weight loss, however, it's important to assess the entire body, as excess skin can sag and fold over the abdomen, breasts, back, hips, buttocks, pubic area, thighs, arms, and face. One or a combination of procedures may be appropriate for your unique body. Your surgery may include abdominoplasty, a body lift, breast reduction or lifts, thigh lifts, buttock lifts, and removal of skin and fat from the back and hips. Arm lifts and a face-lift may also be recommended to complete your transformation. Together, you and your surgeon will determine what combination of procedures is right for your body. Depending on the procedures you choose, you may need to schedule multiple surgery dates.
The body lift
A body lift can remove excess skin and fat tissue, tighten your abdominal muscles, and recontour the remaining skin around your torso. It requires incisions, whose number and placement depend on your size and shape and the amount of tissue to be removed. It also requires insertion of a catheter and draining tubes, and special monitoring during your recovery. Your hospital stay may last one or more days.
Click here to learn more about abdominoplasty, breast reduction and lifts, arm lifts, and face-lifts.
Preparing for treatment
During your consultation, you'll need to inform your surgeon of your allergies, previous surgeries, and any medications, vitamins, diet supplements, and prescription or other drugs you're taking. You'll be given a full physical exam as well as blood tests.
It's important for you to be close to your target weight before your surgery. If you lose significant weight after your surgery, excess skin may be a recurring problem. Your surgeon can help you decide on the timing of your surgery.
As your surgery date approaches, you'll be given instructions about eating, drinking, taking medications, shaving, and bathing. If you smoke, your surgeon may ask you to quit prior to surgery to help your healing process and reduce your risk of complications.
You may feel a certain amount of discomfort after you come out of anesthesia. The incision areas may be sore, bruised, and swollen. You'll have various options to help alleviate any pain.
The urinary catheter may be removed as soon as one day after your procedure. Your sutures will be removed in stages as your recovery progresses. You'll be given compression garments to wear according to your surgeon's instructions. It may take 2 to 3 months for swelling to decrease and your body's new shape to be revealed. During your recovery, you may weigh more because of the swelling.
Your surgeon will tell you how to walk and move to protect your sutures and to help reduce your risk of blood clots, especially in your legs. Your surgeon will also prescribe specific exercises, bathing procedures, and sleeping positions.
You may be able to resume your normal physical activities within a week or two of surgery, and sports and highly physical activities within 8 to 12 weeks. Most important, you'll be asked to refrain from smoking. Not smoking is crucial for a successful healing and recovery process.
No surgery is without risks. Your doctor will explain the risks and benefits of your proposed surgery and help you with your decision during your consultation.
Risks include blood clots, fluid collecting under the skin around stitches, nerve damage, infection, and healing problems. Your surgeon will make sure you understand these risks, as well as the general risks inherent in any surgical procedure.
With a body lift, scarring can be extensive. Your surgeon will inform you how much scarring you are likely to have. Many factors contribute to the depth, width, and color of scars, so be sure to ask your surgeon what you can do to aid the healing process.
Click here to learn more about the risks associated with abdominoplasty, breast reduction and lifts, arm lifts, and face-lifts.
I'm interested! What's my next step?
Call your nearest Kaiser Permanente Cosmetic Services center to schedule a consultation to determine if you're a good candidate and to learn more about the procedure. Click on the list of centers offering body contouring after major weight loss and find the center nearest you.