With the growing popularity of bariatric, or gastric bypass, surgery as a treatment for obesity, body contouring after significant weight loss has become a field of special interest for many plastic surgeons.
By applying the latest techniques in body sculpting individualized to each patient's specific needs and priorities, your plastic surgeon can help you realize the new shape that is hidden beneath the excess skin that remains after your goal weight has been achieved.
With significant weight loss over a relatively short period of time (usually 15-18 months), the remaining skin often does not retain the elastic qualities necessary to "shrink back down" to your new underlying shape. This often leaves patients with excessive amounts of hanging skin that creates a multitude of problems such as daily hygiene and finding clothes that fit properly.
A comprehensive approach to the bariatric patient is necessary to achieve the optimal figure following weight loss. One of the most important considerations for a plastic surgeon to realize is that a bariatric patient must be treated differently from non-bariatric body contouring patients. What has worked well for many years on other patients simply does not provide adequate shaping and contouring for the bariatric patient.
Patients who have undergone gastric bypass surgery and the subsequent significant weight loss may have numerous but similar areas of concern.
Skin reduction is done in stages to minimize complications such as infection and blood loss, and is often done over a period of years as one or two areas of the body are addressed at a time. Also, touch-up surgeries are often required later.
Your surgeon will make recommendations about the best strategy to address all of your needs in the safest and most efficient manner.
Common Surgery After Bariatric Weight Loss Surgeries:
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Belt Lipectomy - Lower Body Lift
A Belt Lipectomy, also known as the lower body lift, offers the most dramatic transformation of the mid and lower body. It is truly a resculpting of the abdomen, hips, thighs, and buttocks. Broken into its components, the lower body lift includes a tummy tuck (abdominoplasty), a thigh lift, and a buttock lift.
Body Lift Surgery Overview
Location of operation: Hospital.
Length of surgery: 4-6 hours
Length of stay in hospital: 1-4 nights.
Length of stay in Thailand: 7 nights at least
Discomfort: Moderate. Anticipate 5-10 days of prescription pain medication.
Swelling: Improves over 2-6 weeks.
Bruising: Is not typical
Bandages: Will be removed in 1-7 days.
Stitches: Will be absorbable.
Back to work: 2-4 weeks.
Exercise: May be resumed in 4-6 weeks.
Final result: Will be seen after the scars have matured, which will be about six months.
The body lift procedure is performed on post bariatric patients as well as patients who have not had weight loss. The body lift transforms patients that have experienced massive weight loss and have excess skin. However, results are just as dramatic in patients who in addition to a tummy tuck want a tightening of the skin in their thighs and buttocks. The body lift (belt lipectomy) has the advantage that it can be done in one surgical session, or in stages, depending on the patients needs.
Who benefits most from the lower body lift procedure?
To determine if you might be interested in consulting a plastic surgeon about having a body lift, stand in front of a mirror and look at your abdomen. Use your thumb and palm of your hand to hold one edge of skin on your lower abdomen and then grasp the lower skin with all four fingers. If you like how your skin tightens, and the way your pubic mound lifts, you are a candidate for the abdominoplasty procedure.
Now pinch the loose skin around your hips. See how it lifts the hips and thighs? If you like this maneuver, you are a candidate for the lateral thigh lift. In combination with abdominoplasty, this is called an extended abdominoplasty.
Stand facing away from the mirror and look over your shoulder so you can see as much as you can of your backside. Reach back with the palm of you hand and lift the butt. This approximates what a butt lift can accomplish. The traditional butt lift will lift the butt by excising a wedge of skin and pulling up the skin so that the butt is lifted. Occasionaly, patients also want a fat injection into the buttocks if the butt has become very flat as a result of all the weight loss. The technique of transferring fat into the buttocks is called brazilian butt lift.
If you want improvement in all these areas, the Lower Body Lift (belt lipectomy) is the cosmetic surgery procedure for you.
Who is a Good Candidate for Body Contouring After Weight Loss?
It can be very discouraging to achieve weight loss, yet still have to contend with excess skin that keeps you from wearing the clothes you'd like. Excess skin can cause cause daily discomfort by causing rashes and possibly skin infections. Post-weight loss cosmetic surgery can be an excellent solution for anyone who would like to have loose, excess skin removed from his or her body. Body contouring procedures can help you achieve the figure you desire after weight loss surgery, pregnancy, or following weight loss achieved through diet and exercise.
Post Bariatric Surgery Patients
Patients who have chosen to lose weight through bariatric surgery must accept a lifetime of changes; eating habits, lifestyle adjustments, and medical risks must all be taken into account. In addition to these commitments, post-bariatric surgery cosmetic procedures may be considered as a way to remove excess skin that causes skin irritation and prevents post-weight loss patients from fully enjoying their new bodies. Surgery to remove the excess skin and fat includes such body contouring options as tummy tuck, liposuction, and body lift. These procedures have been successfully used after weight loss surgery to refine patients’ bodies and help them enjoy everyday activities.
Women Who Have Been Pregnant
Weight gain during pregnancy is normal, as is weight loss after giving birth. For women with diminished skin elasticity or those who have had multiple pregnancies, excess skin may be a problem. If pregnancy has left you with post-weight loss excess skin, surgery to remove the additional skin can help give you the slimmer, shapelier figure you desire. Keep in mind that future pregnancies can reverse the effects of body contouring, so you should wait until you are done having children before undergoing this type of surgery.
Any Weight Loss Patient Who Has Excess Skin
Whether achieved through bariatric surgery or diet and exercise, massive weight loss often results in areas of loose, excess skin. If you have successfully lost a significant amount of weight through changes in your eating habits or activities, post‑weight loss cosmetic surgery procedures such as a body lift may be a good option to eliminate any excess skin. Choosing to undergo a body lift after weight loss is an excellent way to reveal your slimmer new figure.
What is involved in the lower body lift?
Excess skin and fat from the entire midsection of the body is removed. The skin closure is tailored to enhance the figure.
What type of anesthesia is used?
The body lift procedure is done under either IV sedation or general anesthesia. The surgery is performed in the hospital and includes overnight hospital stay.
How long is the recovery for lower body lift surgery?
All surgeries are performed in the hospital under general anesthesia, and most patients stay in the hospital one to four nights. After surgery, tubes are usually placed in the wound to drain excess fluid, and medications are given to control pain and discomfort. A certain degree of soreness, swelling and bruising for two to three weeks after surgery is normal.
Most people can return to work after two to four weeks, but people with physically demanding jobs need to wait at least three weeks. During this recovery period, you will return to your doctor’s office regularly to monitor your progress.