After significant weight loss, most people report feeling healthier and more energetic. In fact, losing just 5-10% of your body weight can improve your overall health and reduce your risk for chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes. Weight loss also contributes to improved oxygen efficiency, which can lead to a big boost in your energy levels.
However, one thing many people aren’t prepared for is the remaining loose, sagging skin that remains after dramatic weight loss. This doesn’t go away overnight, and sometimes, it never does.
As a result, some people may feel disappointed by how their new bodies look:
“I wish I felt comfortable standing in front of a mirror looking at myself.”
“I’m not comfortable being intimate with my partner because I feel self-conscious about my excess skin.”
“This excess skin is a reminder of where I was…I’m ready to show off the new me!”
Losing a large amount of weight is a huge step towards a healthier lifestyle, whether it is through surgery or from diet and exercise. But you may be feeling like the journey is not quite over. So is skin removal surgery right for you? There are a number of things that may be helpful for you to take into consideration.
Are you a good candidate?
You may be a good candidate for skin removal surgery if you:
- Have experienced dramatic weight loss as a result of bariatric surgery or diet and exercise
- Have loose, sagging or stretched skin in multiple areas including the face, neck, breasts, arms, abdomen, back and thighs
- Have maintained a stable weight for at least six months and don’t expect much further weight loss (can be 18+ months after weight loss)
- Are in good general health
- Have a healthy diet
- Do not smoke
- Have realistic expectations (surgery will improve the appearance of sagged skin, but it is impossible to fully restore skin to its original pre-weight gain appearance)
What are your goals?
Usually, the goal of plastic surgery after dramatic weight loss is to tighten loose and sagging skin. There are a number of different options to choose from, including:
- Lower Body Lift: Lifts and tightens skin around the waistline including front, back and sides
- Buttock Lift: Lifts and/or augments buttocks
- Tummy Tuck: Reduces excess skin, tightens loose muscles, and reduces excess fat
- Facelift and Neck Lift: Reduces hanging or sagging skin on the neck or below the cheeks
- Liposuction: Reduces excess fat from stubborn areas like arms, belly, back or thighs
- Breast Lift: Reduces hanging or sagging breasts
- Breast Reduction: Reduces breast size and discomfort from large breasts
- Thigh Lift: Reduces excess skin from thighs that chafe and cause discomfort
- Arm Lift: Reduces excess skin hanging from arms
If you are considering multiple procedures, it is generally advisable to complete them at intervals since the outcome of one procedure can impact the next. Discussing your goals with your surgeon and creating a plan together is definitely your best bet.
What are the pros, cons and risks?
- Fit better into your clothes
- Stop painful chafing, rashes or infections caused by sagging skin
- Improve self-esteem
- Surgery may not meet your expectations
- Permanent scarring
- Results may be affected by weight gain, aging and lifestyle choices
Serious risks are rare, and risk of complications is low if the operation is performed by an experienced plastic surgeon at an accredited facility. But all surgical procedures have some degree of risk.
- Adverse reaction to anesthesia
- Infection and bleeding
- Changes in sensation
- Allergic reactions
- Unsatisfactory results that may necessitate additional procedures
What about after surgery?
Immediately after plastic surgery, you can expect bandages, compression garments, and maybe some surgical drains. It’s common to experience discomfort, swelling and numbness. You can speak with your surgeon about medication to control pain.
Recovery time will depend on the procedure. The first week will be the most difficult, and you will feel like you are still recovering for at least two to three weeks. Swelling and numbness can take months to fully go away. And you will probably have to wait six weeks after surgery before attempting strenuous activities.
Following all instructions from your surgeon can reduce recovery time and help make recovery as smooth as possible.
In most cases, scars from plastic surgery will flatten out and significantly improve over time. The incision lines won’t completely disappear, though, so your surgeon will strategically hide the lines in body creases whenever possible. For more info and tips on minimizing scarring after plastic surgery, see our previous blog post here.
How long will results last?
Results are long lasting if your weight remains stable. The best way to maintain results from plastic surgery is to prevent weight gain and to exercise regularly. Plastic surgery cannot stop you from aging normally, though, so it’s important to come into surgery with realistic expectations and be prepared to follow your surgeon’s aftercare instructions.
Interested in skin removal surgery? Click here to contact one of our world-class surgeons today.