Body Contouring After Dramatic Weight Loss


Body contouring after dramatic weight loss generally entails the removal of redundant skin, leading to a near normal appearance.  However, it is unequivocal to preserve the full range of motion and to use every effort to hide the scars beneath the bikini area or within the natural skin folds.

Despite surveys suggesting that body contouring after dramatic weight loss provides benefits beyond cosmetics—e.g., stronger motivation to keep a steady weight, improved quality of life and body functions, and relief from symptoms and discomfort caused by the redundant skin—it is rarely covered by insurance.

As of this writing, panniculectomy is the only surgery sought by MWL patients commonly covered by health insurance.  While this procedure provides relief from non-healing irritation and discomfort caused by the apron-like skin, it does not offer the same cosmetic improvements accomplished by tummy tuck.

Tummy tuck, according to surveys, is the most commonly sought after procedure following massive weight loss.  This is not surprising since the hanging abdominal skin tends to be the most problematic.  But unlike panniculectomy, it goes deeper into the splayed or weakened abdominal muscle, which is sutured and tightened in a corset-like fashion, thereby leading to more feminine contour and/or flatter abdomen.

While multiple surgeries are routinely performed on MWL patients, it remains in their best interest to avoid lengthy operation (six hours or longer).  For this reason, it is occasionally ideal to have two or more surgeons working simultaneously in an attempt to reduce the time spent under general anesthesia, which ultimately results in less bleeding and surgical trauma.

Because MWL patients typically require extensive incisions and/or significant tissue repair, doctors are extra strict during the selection process.  Smokers, individuals with blood or healing problems, and anemic (remarkably, it is a common problem after drastic weight loss) are generally categorized as poor candidates.

Weight is another key variable that determines the ideal timing and the “best” candidate.  According to one study, the complication rate was significantly lower among bariatric surgery patients who waited at least a year prior to their body contouring procedure than those who had it sooner.

Waiting for the weight to stabilize also resulted in shorter hospital stays, the researchers noted. For the right patients, body contouring after dramatic weight loss can provide long-term health benefits.  For instance, one survey has suggested that MWL patients were more successful in keeping a normal BMI than those who skipped the surgery after a five-year follow-up.

Because of the notable benefits of body contouring after dramatic weight loss, which have already been demonstrated by countless studies and surveys, we believe that it could also serve as a critical aspect of long-term weight management.
Article by
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon