Body Contouring After 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. As you begin to engage in physical activities you previously thought impossible, you may find it difficult to move freely as pockets and fold of extra skin are common after major weight loss, and may hamper your range of motion. At Kaiser Permanente locations in San Francisco, Sacramento, and throughout Northern California, body contouring after weight loss is performed to help women and men to put the finishing touches on their weight loss transformation and feel better in their own skin.
This webpage describes cosmetic procedures that your provider has determined are not reconstructive or medically indicated. For specific information about your covered health plan benefits, please see your Evidence of Coverage (EOC) or for Kaiser Permanente members, please contact Member Services at 1-800-464-4000.
About Body Contouring Surgery
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, breast lift, thigh lift, buttock lift, and removal of skin and fat from the back and hips. An arm lift, and a facelift 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.
What Is Treatment Like?
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.
Am I a Candidate?
In some cases, you may be unhappy with the excess skin, but the pockets or folds of extra skin might not be abnormal or might not impair any functions. In cases such as these, you may be a candidate for cosmetic procedures to help your skin fit your new shape. If your provider determines that the surgery is not medically indicated, then it is not a covered benefit and you will need to pay for the cost of the cosmetic surgery.
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.
What Can I Expect Before and After Treatment?
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 importantly, you’ll be asked to refrain from smoking. Not smoking is crucial for a successful healing and recovery process.
Are There Any Risks?
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.
Some risks include blood clots, fluid collecting under the skin around stitches, nerve damage, infection, and healing problems. Your surgeon will discuss with you 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.
I’m Interested! What’s My Next Step?
When you’re ready to learn more about body contouring procedures, contact your local Kaiser Permanente Cosmetic Services.