Every year, more than 50 million Americans try a new diet. According to estimates, nearly 66% of all U.S. adults are overweight. Fortunately, many people are able to win the battle of the bulge and lose excess pounds through diet, exercise or gastric bypass surgery. While this is great for health and self-confidence, many people are then left with loose, sagging skin. What can people do to remove this excess skin? Body contouring treatments are one of the most popular solutions, providing a safe and effective solution for many people.
Body contouring can be performed on many different areas of the body. This gives patients the freedom to choose which option is right for them. The abdomen, arms, buttocks, lower body and breasts are all areas where body contouring can be used to sculpt, shape, lift and tighten the body. Some patients choose a combination of two or more procedures, while others opt for a total lift.
Body Contouring Surgery - How Soon After the Weight Loss?
While some patients may be anxious to get on with the 'final' stage of their weight loss journey, it is important to wait until at least several months after you have reached your weight loss goal. This allows the body a period to recover and adjust metabolically to the new weight Waiting allows time for the skin to adjust to your smaller frame. Finally, waiting also allows you to acquire new eating habits for long-term weight maintenance.
While there is no magic waiting period, most plastic surgeons would like their patients to have a stable weight for close to six months before considering elective body contouring surgery. The most important reason to wait is to allow your body time to recover. Wound healing for almost every body contouring procedure requires a lot of nutrients and energy to heal properly. You want your energy stores and your immune function to be in the best shape possible.
Body Contouring Surgery After Large Amounts of Weight Loss
In large weight loss patients, through bariatric surgery or from their own dieting program, excess skin is almost always left behind. If the excess skin is significant, this results in a 'new' problem for the patient. The body may be smaller overall, but the skin excess causes a new set of problems - personal embarrassment, the need to still buy larger clothing, and the potential for problems of skin irritation, rashes, or infections from the overhanging heavy skin. Unfortunately, the very process that got you to this point will not help you get rid of loose skin. No matter how much dieting, or exercise one does, it will not make the skin snap back into place or make it go away. This is a surgical problem that is best addressed with body contouring surgery.
Reshaping the body after weight loss involves a special set of plastic surgery procedures that are specifically designed to remove excess skin and fat and reshape specific body areas. Body contouring surgery can remove large amounts of sagging skin and fat that can often result in a dramatic improvement. Body contouring surgery restores shape and contour to the body. It might not offer much weight loss since the excess kin usually does not weigh as much with most of the fat gone already. These body contouring surgical procedures will not only remove excess skin but will tighten muscles as well. Dr. Speron uses liposuction (fat removal only) during any body contouring surgery for an improved overall result especially in the transition zones.
While body contouring surgery can produce some dramatic changes that can improve your physical and psychological health, there is a trade-off. The trade-off of any body contouring surgery is always the scars. Every body contouring surgery results in significant scarring! I have yet to find a large weight loss patient who balks at that trade-off but remember you are trading off one problem for another.....excess skin and fat for scars. So be certain that this trade-off is a good one and you understand the scars are permanent. If a patient is highly concerned about scars, then body contouring surgery may not be for you. Body contouring surgery is uniquely different from purely cosmetic body contouring in that the goals are to make you look good in clothes, not to be critically judged out of them.
Body Contouring and Liposuction
Obesity and overweight issues are common in America and getting worse. There are dozens of diet and exercise plans are out there to help millions of overweight people lose weight and they work if you can stick with them. However, many people are also turning to surgical procedures like liposuction and body contouring to get the bodies they have always wanted.
One common problem patients have after liposuction surgery is the extra skin left over. Finding a way to remove or firm that skin after liposuction is a common problem.
A popular method for getting rid of the excess skin is called body contouring. It is very successful and often gives people back the shapely curves they are looking for. As cosmetic plastic surgeons have become more experienced with these types of procedure, body contouring has become both more common and more successful.
When liposuction is completed there are several areas of the body that can end up with excess skin. These include the abdomen, breasts, buttocks, arms, thighs and even the face. Through body contouring a plastic surgeon can remove these extra flaps of skin and give the person a more shapely figure.
Both liposuction and body contouring are good ways to reshape our bodies and get the look we want and envision for ourselves.
The Advantages of Body Contouring Treatments
The biggest benefit of having body contouring surgery is the ability to regain a firmer, more youthful appearance. Individuals who have experienced significant weight loss, people entering middle age and women who have had children, can especially benefit from body contouring procedures. By removing excessive skin and fat, plastic surgeons can help patients improve their outer appearance and inner confidence.
Am I a Good Candidate For Body Contouring Surgery?
Body contouring surgery can be technically performed on any massive weight loss patient. The most important question is whether you can go through the operation safely and heal after surgery with a reasonably low risk of potential complications. There is no such thing as zero risk of complications in any surgery!
Any patient's candidacy for body contouring surgery consists of three important issues, your general health, your BMI (body mass index), and your financial preparedness. The first and most important issue is your general health. Do you feel good overall? Are you active and in good nutritional health? Do you have any post-bariatric surgery symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, GI bleeding, or stomach ulcers? Many patients are not truly ready for a major surgery until well after they have achieved their optimal weight gain. Most body contouring surgeries will need clearance from your weight loss or primary care doctor and blood laboratory studies.
The Body Mass Index (BMI) is a good way to determine how effective body contouring surgery will be. BMI is a number calculated from a person's weight and height. BMI provides a reliable indicator of body fatness for most people and is used to screen for weight categories that may lead to health problems. Removing loose or excess skin will not be maximally effective if you are still obese. BMIs of 30 or lower are most ideal for body contouring surgery.
Fiscal preparedness is also an important issue. Most body contouring surgeries are not going to be covered by insurance. The one that has a highest chance of being covered by insurance is a tummy tuck or panniculectomy. Understandably, most patients think that is unfair but there must be a documented medical reason for your insurance carrier to even consider it. Even if there is a valid reason, it will be a battle.
The Risks and Benefits Associated With Body Contouring Treatments
In addition to considering what you may gain by having body contouring surgery, you should also consider the possible risks and complications. No plastic surgery procedure is without risks. Before you decide if body contouring is right for you, consider both the potential risks and benefits. Some of the possible complications associated with body contouring procedures include blood clots, excessive bleeding and infection.
By understanding how the surgery works, the results you can expect and the possible side effects, you will be better prepared to make the decision that is right for your health, your specific lifestyle and your particular needs. Any type of cosmetic plastic surgery comes with both benefits and possible risks. Before you decide if body contouring is right for you, spend some time carefully reviewing your goals. Always have realistic expectations in order to get the most out of your plastic surgery experience.
What to Expect After Your Body Contouring Surgery
With the euphoria that often comes with the anticipation of major body contouring surgery after a lot of weight loss is the reality of what plastic surgery can and cannot do. Body contouring patients are usually pretty satisfied with their results.
Despite the largely satisfied patient, body contouring like all cosmetic surgery has some realities that every patient needs to know. First, the surgery is basically a trade-off of one problem for another. You are exchanging loose hanging skin for scars. Moreover, most of these scars are not great (by plastic surgery standards). That is the nature of body contouring surgery - a lot of scars. Some scars may look great but many others will not. You must be prepared for the scars and the time it takes for them to mature and settle down.
Some body contouring procedures may take longer to recover from than one may anticipate. This is particularly true in combination surgeries. Your bariatric surgery may have been done laparoscopically with small incisions and a reasonable recovery, but body contouring surgery is very different. While the actual recovery will vary dependent upon what procedures are performed, circumferential body lifts, abdominoplasties, and the various forms of thigh lifts need 4 to 6 weeks for a complete recovery. Complete recovery means getting past some healing nuisance issues such as seromas, small wound openings and spitting sutures. When you return to work, plan on taking it easy intially. A big surgery means a big recovery. Do not underestimate it!
Lastly, few forms of plastic surgery are ever permanent and body contouring changes are no exception. Time, gravity and changes in your weight will not have a positive impact on your long-term results. After a few months, there is some skin relaxation (never returning to what it once was) so tissues may not feel as tight as right after surgery. The maintenance of any results will also depend on maintaining good exercise and eating habits.
** Dr. Speron has a tremendous amount of experience with body contouring. It is one of the most common procedures he performs. He is able to offer all types of options to his patients: