Cosmetic Surgery After Massive Weight Loss

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The field of body contouring after massive weight loss is rapidly expanding. Approximately 135,000 people undergo bariatric surgery per year. Along with this growth has come large numbers of patients who are left with significant amounts of excess skin. This is because after the skin has been stretched out from being obese, it often cannot shrink back to an acceptable degree. This can affect the appearance of the face, arms, breasts, abdomen and thighs. In addition to the issue of loose skin, these patients can also experience the loss of desired volume to the face, breasts and buttocks. This can take a toll on the quality of life for patients who have lost massive amounts of weight. After persevering through their weight loss journey, patients may still suffer from poor body image due to the appearance of large amounts of loose skin.
Fortunately, Plastic Surgeons have responded to the growing demand for cosmetic surgery for these patients. Not only does this surgery improve patients’ physical appearance, but many experts do not consider these patients’ transformation to be fully complete until body contouring surgery has been performed. In fact, a recent study in the journal Obesity Surgery reveals that patients who undergo cosmetic surgery after their weight loss surgery are significantly happier in terms of self-esteem, social life, work ability, sexual activity and physical activity versus patients who had weight loss surgery alone. In addition, these patients were more likely to keep the weight off.
There is a new appreciation for the special concerns of these patients. In addition to technical modifications of traditional surgical techniques, several entirely new procedures have been developed, including those that can augment the breasts and buttocks, using the tissue that would otherwise have been discarded. These procedures represent the very essence of plastic surgery – taking something that is undesireable and re-purposing it to achieve a desired effect. The excess tissue to the lateral chest wall that is a common complaint after weight loss surgery can be used to add fullness to the breast, thus avoiding the need for implants. Similarly, the loose tissue to the “love handles”, rather than simply discarded, can be used to enhance the shape of the buttocks, which often become flat after losing the weight.
I have recently joined some of my colleagues in the American Society of Bariatric Plastic Surgeons, a group of board certified plastic surgeons that have a special interest and proficiency in body contouring for patients that have had massive weight loss, either from bariatric surgery or from diet and exercise. Membership allows me to keep up to date with the latest techniques and share my experience with other Plastic Surgeons who are leaders in the field
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Bel Air Plastic Surgeon