Body Contouring After Weight Loss
Whether through diet and exercise or through a bariatric surgery procedure, losing a dramatic amount of weight is a process that takes a lot of patience and perseverance. Achieving a healthy weight at long last is an achievement to be celebrated. Unfortunately, there are often downsides to massive weight loss that can interfere with the celebration of such a major accomplishment—such as loose, sagging skin and poor body contour.
The skin is designed to be able to stretch, retract, and adapt to the body’s changes through normal movement, growth, weight gain, and weight loss. Unfortunately, the skin’s elasticity can only do so much, and once it has expanded to accommodate excess fat, it can have a difficult time retracting again after weight loss, particularly if the amount of weight lost was significant. The result of this is extensive sagging, hanging excess skin that can compromise the overall aesthetics of the body.
Body contouring is an effective solution to these problems. Comprehensive body contouring may include procedures like an upper or lower body lift, tummy tuck, arm lift, thigh lift, and/or breast lift to give patients custom results that will reach their goals. If multiple surgeries are necessary to meet these goals, procedures may need to be spaced out in intervals several months apart for patient safety.
Although numerous combinations of “lifts” are possible, there are two major body contouring procedures that fall specifically under the “body lift” label: the upper body lift and the lower body lift. The lower body lift is a combination of a tummy tuck (abdominoplasty), thigh lift, and buttock lift which addresses excess skin and poor contour in the lower half of the body. An upper body lift addresses the upper half of the body, particularly the back, and often includes a breast lift for female patients. If both types of lifts are desired by the patient, they will need to be performed at different times for safety reasons. In addition, not all the components of a body lift have to be performed at the same time. For instance the front of the tummy might be completed at one stage and the buttock and thigh lift components might be completed at a subsequent stage.
Body Contouring Consultation
Body contouring, particularly after massive weight loss, is a highly custom procedure. The first step in the process is meeting with our skilled and compassionate doctors at Emory Aesthetic Center in Atlanta, Georgia, for a one-on-one consultation. During the consultation, one of our surgeons will assess your excess skin and talk to you about your goals for body contouring. We will talk about the different options available and start planning a custom procedure to suit your needs. Our experts will also evaluate your medical history and candidacy, walk you through any procedures you are interested in, and give you the opportunity to address your questions and concerns. Body contouring is major surgery so you should be informed about all aspects of the process—including body lift cost, risks, and benefits.
Body Contouring Candidates
Body contouring is an intensive process and candidates for the procedure should meet specific criteria. First, patients should be at or near their goal weight as excess weight increases the risk of complications and reduces the effectiveness of body contouring surgery. Second, patients should have significant excess skin they would like to improve that will not retract on its own. Third, general good health is a requirement as the surgery can be quite extensive. Finally, patients must have realistic expectations for the results of the surgery, and be dedicated to pre- and post-operative care to improve the chances for a successful outcome.
Body Contouring Procedure
Though body contouring procedures are fairly long and difficult, the basic concept is straightforward. General anesthesia is always used for body contouring procedures, and the process will take a few hours to complete. Both an upper and lower body lift are performed in much the same way: incisions will be made in areas with excess skin and stubborn fatty deposits. These incisions will be placed as discreetly as possible, and will be as long as necessary to produce good results. The excess skin is then removed and tightened, fatty tissue is removed as necessary, and the contours of the body are improved before the incisions are closed.
Body Contouring Recovery
Most patients undergoing body contouring after massive weight loss are able to be discharged home the same day. Some surgeons will recommend compression garments to be worn for several weeks following the surgery, although others will not. Recovery and realistic return to work times vary significantly by which procedures and how many procedures are done during your surgery. Patients will need to take several weeks off of work for recovery, typically a minimum of two and a maximum of six. Patients should focus on rest and post-operative care during this time, gradually resuming light activity. Because body contouring is major surgery, patients will need to follow physician instructions carefully, and be on the lookout for any signs of complications. Everyone’s recovery phase is slightly different, due to the variation in procedures and individual rates of healing.
Body Contouring FAQs
Will I lose more weight from a body lift?
Patients should not be focused on additional weight loss from body lift surgery, as good candidates for the procedure should be at or near their desired goal weight. With that said, excess skin can be quite heavy, and patients may lose up to a few pounds of skin during the process, depending on the extent of the procedure. This should make you feel lighter overall, as the skin will be tight, firm, and no longer prone to jiggling with movement.
Will a body lift be an inpatient or outpatient surgery?
It depends on the extent of the procedure and on the individual patient, but most patients are able to go home after body contouring surgery with a trusted friend or family member. In some cases the patient may require overnight observation or may prefer a private duty nurse, such is provided in our overnight suites at the Emory Aesthetic Center. Specific arrangements will be discussed during the planning phase of your procedure.
How much scarring can be expected from body contouring?
Incisions for body contouring are usually quite extensive, and some visible scarring can be expected from the procedure. However, our Atlanta plastic surgeons do their best to minimize scarring, placing incisions in discreet areas when possible, and adjusting our techniques to help the final scars look as good as possible.
Many scars from a body lift procedure can be hidden with clothing, and most patients feel some scarring is worth it to enjoy the aesthetic results of body contouring.
What happens if I gain weight after a body lift?
If weight gain is significant, the results of the procedure will likely be compromised. This is why candidates for body lift surgery should be at or near a healthy weight before undergoing surgery. Many patients use the procedure as motivation to maintain their weight and their beautiful results.
I’m thinking about having more children. Should I wait to have a body lift?
It is completely up to you as to when you choose to seek body contouring surgery. However, if you are a woman considering further pregnancies, you should be aware that having more children could compromise the results of the procedure, and you may regret not waiting to have the surgery until after your final pregnancy.
When will I see my final results?
Body lift surgery is quite invasive; therefore, it takes some time for healing to be completed and final results to emerge. Generally, patients will start seeing preliminary results after a few months, with final results taking about six months to over a year to become apparent.
When can I start exercising again after surgery?
While it may be frustrating to limit activity, especially if you’re trying to maintain your weight, you will need to wait a while after surgery before starting or resuming exercise. Your surgeon will give you specific guidelines, but you will likely have to wait a few weeks before you start exercising again.
How painful is the body lift recovery?
As a major surgery, patients may find the recovery from body contouring surgery to be quite painful in the first few weeks. However, our doctors will provide you with pain medication to help ease any discomfort and offer tips for minimizing your pain during this time. It is helpful to have someone stay with you during the first week or two to ease your recovery.
What’s the difference between a body lift and a panniculectomy?
A panniculectomy is a procedure that removes severe hanging skin only from the apron of the stomach (pannus). This procedure is very different from a body lift, which addresses several different areas and contours the body in addition to removing excess skin.
How dramatic are the results from body contouring?
The results from body lift surgery can be very dramatic, though patients need to keep their expectations realistic when envisioning final results. Body contouring procedures can produce dramatic improvement, but they cannot achieve perfection, and expecting perfection from any cosmetic surgery is a recipe for disappointment.
How Can We Help You Today?
Need help? We will be delighted to assist you today, so please call us at 404-778-6880. We look forward to hearing from you.