Body contouring surgery after weight loss can make a significant positive difference in one’s life. Depending on the areas of the body that need to be surgically addressed, multiple stages may be necessary. Here’s a representative timeline of what to expect when planning for this.
Lower body lift (Belt Lipectomy)- Removing the large amount of excess skin from the torso is the foundation for the remainder of the body contouring procedures. This procedure addresses the abdomen, flanks, outer thighs, and buttocks. It reduces the excess skin and lifts these sagging areas. Our protocol for this procedure is a hospital-based surgery with at least an overnight stay.
Sometimes it isn’t necessary to remove excess tissue completely around the torso. If the buttocks and thighs are not a significant problem, then a standard abdominoplasty, or tummy tuck, may be all that is needed. Sometimes insurance companies will cover an abdominoplasty procedure if the excess skin hangs over the pubic region. This is known as a panniculectomy procedure. And if a lower body lift is needed, then insurance companies may cover the panniculectomy portion of the procedure. Visit the Body Lift and Tummy Tuck pages for more information about these procedures and the recovery process involved.
Usually patients will want to address the upper body next. This entails an evaluation of the breasts, upper arms, and the excess skin of the underarm area. Sometimes this excess skin will also extend to the upper back and cause large skin rolls under the bra in females. For women, often a breast lift and augmentation are performed together to address sagging breasts and their lack of volume. Sometimes a breast lift is all that is needed, and on occasion, a breast reduction may even need to be performed. If the patient meets insurance requirements, a breast reduction may be covered by their insurance provider. Check out the different Breast surgery pages for information about each of these procedures and the recovery process involved.
Patients may also have flabby arms with lots of loose skin after weight-loss. With upper arm (brachioplasty) surgery, the excess skin of the upper arms is addressed. Brachioplasty surgery improves the upper arm contour by removing the redundant skin in this area with carefully placed incisions located along the inner part of the upper arm. The incisions may be extended to also address the underarm area if necessary. When all of these procedures are performed during the same surgery, it is referred to as an upper body lift.
An inner thigh lift is often performed last, but can be done earlier depending on the patient’s wishes. This surgery addresses the excess and redundant skin of the upper, inner thighs. Generally, there are two ways to address the inner thighs. If the excess skin is located mainly in the upper-third of the inner thighs, the design of the skin excision may be able to keep the incision along the groin crease. This incision location may often be hidden by undergarments. Oftentimes though, the redundant skin extends to the mid- and even lower-third of the inner thigh. If this is the case, a vertical thigh lift is usually the preferred procedure. This type of thigh lift can often better address the more severe skin redundancy of the thighs. The design of the skin excision for a vertical thigh lift leaves the incision along the inner aspect or in-seam of the thigh.
When more than one surgery is planned to address the many areas that may be affected after massive weight-loss, the amount of time between each procedure usually averages between 2 and 4 months. We recommend that the patient takes 2 to 3 weeks off to recover from the first stage before going back to work. For the upper body surgery and medial thigh lift (second and third stages), we recommend 7 to 10 days off from work, but one may need more or less time depending on how fast one recovers.
Of note, all of these procedures may not be necessary for every patient depending on how one’s skin adapts after the weight loss. And if several procedures are needed, our office will work with you through financing and even offer discounted fees if multiple procedures are scheduled.