Excess skin after gastric bypass? Excise it!

mellieb on 27 Aug 2010 at 9:36am

Inspired by Roseanne, Sharon Osborne, Star Jones – or simply the desire to wear a bikini on the beach again – you make the decision to undergo gastric bypass surgery. You change your eating and exercise habits, gain the support of friends and family – and achieve your goal, after much effort. Congratulations! You feel amazing and are proud of yourself – as well you should be.

And let’s face it – now you’re ready to flaunt that hard-earned new body.

Gastric bypass surgery is often both liberating and life-altering for those who’ve struggled with obesity. In fact, currently 96% of those who’ve had the procedure done say it was Worth It. Comments on RealSelf.com from surgical recipients range from “I have a new life” to “Best thing I ever did” and “I am a new person”.

But there’s one important catch. What to do about the excess skin you’re left with -- the result of shedding so many pounds? Surely there’s a shortcut to firm skin that doesn’t involve another visit under the knife. Maybe there’s a cream, an exercise, an outpatient cosmetic procedure?

In life, there are no shortcuts, as the saying goes. Nonsurgical, non-invasive options don’t typically do the job and are a waste of money, conclude RealSelf experts.

Explains Dr. Hisham Seify, an Orange County plastic surgeon, “Following massive weight loss, what is remaining is skin and not fat.” Moreover, the skin of a weight-loss patient often has breakage of the dermal layer and collagen, according to Dr. Siamak Agha, who is a surgeon also based in Orange County.

So what’s a newly svelte self to do?

Says Seattle-based plastic surgeon Richard Rand, “After massive weight loss, the degree of excess skin and loss of elasticity can only be improved with excisional surgery. There really is no other way to make any real change.”

The best plan is to maintain your weight loss, Dr. Rand notes, then meet with a plastic surgeon to plan a long-term program for total body improvement, stage-by-stage. He also suggests directing the plan according to which areas bother you most and get those done first.

A surgeon may first recommend a procedure called a panniculectomy, which essentially remove excess skin from the abdomen. Complementary procedures that tighten the skin underneath might include a tummy tuck, breast lift or thigh lift.

However, Dr. Douglas Mackenzi a Santa Barbara plastic surgeon cautions, “These procedures are not typically covered by insurance. They can be time-consuming surgeries, and multiple procedures may need to be done in stages.”

So how soon is too soon to have more work done to tighten skin after weight loss through gastric bypass? Consult a medical professional to ensure your weight loss is at a point where you can consider additional surgeries to improve skin firmness and overall appearance. And don’t forget that bikini when you head off to the beach!

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