What is it?
Body contouring surgery is surgery to reshape your body and remove loose and overhanging excess skin. It is a crucial part of the journey for patients who have lost large amounts of weight whether from diet and exercise or after bariatric surgery as they usually have significant areas with loose skin that causes problems with comfort, clothing, exercise, skin hygiene and body image.
What is different after significant weight loss compared to standard body contouring surgery?
After significant weight loss, loose skin often develops. This can be quite a large amount (more than after smaller amounts of weight loss or after pregnancy) and overhang which is uncomfortable and problematic for clothing, exercise and skin hygiene. It can also significantly affect self-esteem and body image. Significant loss of volume and sagging can also occur in breast tissue and sometimes in the face. The elasticity and tone of your skin can also be affected by previous high weights and stretch followed by significant weight loss. This makes it harder to maintain a tight skin tone after surgery.
When should you have this surgery?
Body contouring surgery should be undertaken when you are at your goal weight which is a healthy weight for you and your weight has been stable for at least 6 months. A stable weight for 12 to 18 months is needed after some bariatric surgery. Sometimes we undertake surgery at a higher weight if there are problems to wait but a less contoured procedure may be performed, the risks are higher and results not as good. Your nutrition should also be good so that you can heal well.
If you are soon after bariatric surgery (gastric balloon, gastric band, gastric sleeve, gastric bypass), are planning to lose more weight or are still significantly overweight, it may not be the right time to have body contouring surgery. A body contouring surgery is reshaping surgery NOT weight loss surgery and best done at a stable weight too. If you smoke or have significant health problems, this will need to be assessed and you may be advised to wait or not to have body contouring surgery.
What surgery can be done?
Most areas of the body can be treated. The most common procedures are abdominoplasty and body lifts, breast surgery, thigh and arm lifts, upper back lifts, male chest lifts/reduction and face and necklifts.
How should you prepare for body contouring surgery post significant weight loss?
Achieving a stable and healthy weight is the first step. Next is optimising your nutrition and any health issues that you have. Consider which areas you would like treated and what your priorities are. Plan your recovery. Consider the psychological impact of this surgery and the recovery. Consider the cost of the surgery and how you would cover this. Research your procedure and plastic surgeon and finally have at least two consultations before proceeding with surgery.
You will usually have tapes on the incisions. You will need to wear a support garment for 6 weeks. Body lift surgery usually requires one night in hospital. You can shower with care after 48 hours.
You will be advised to gently mobilise carefully the first week or two. On average 3 weeks off work are needed. No heavy lifting or strenuous activity is allowed for 6 weeks. Some forms of exercise can be restarted at 4 weeks. Most exercise is restarted at 6 weeks. Driving is not allowed until you are safe to perform an emergency stop. Recovery can be longer in some cases particularly if combination procedures have been done. Individual procedures will have specific factors about their recovery as well. (more details on their separate webpages)
Unfortunately, complications can occur after all surgery and you need to be aware of this. Ms Nugent will do her utmost to reduce your risk as much as she can. This includes the health and procedure advice she gives you before surgery, the care and precautions she takes during surgery and the advice she gives you after surgery. Some of the complications that can happen include slow healing, infection, bleeding, poor scarring, asymmetry, problems with the belly button or suture junction areas, pain, numbness or sensitivity in the skin, contour irregularities, seroma (fluid build-up), clots in the legs and lungs, recurrence of loose skin and persistent puckering along the scar. Body contouring surgery after significant weight loss is at higher risk of wound healing problems due to the long incisions and due to skin quality and nutritional problems that can occur after large weight gain and loss and bariatric surgery.
Most patients who undergo body contouring surgery after significant weight loss are very pleased with their results and find it transformative and life changing. Success depends on being prepared for your surgery, choosing the right procedure, the surgery itself and recovering well. All steps in the journey are crucial!
Download the detailed information booklet on this page to read more and book a consultation to discuss your individual circumstances with Ms Nugent! Visit the specific procedure pages that you are interested in on this website to read more. There are other information booklets available to download from the specific procedure pages.