Post-Weight Loss Surgery
Body contouring procedures at Columbia Aesthetic Plastic Surgery can help complete your personal transformation after significant weight loss by removing loose skin. If you’ve lost a significant amount of weight, either through surgery such as a gastric bypass or by making lifestyle changes, excess skin may prevent you from having confidence in your appearance.
Our plastic surgeons specialize in combining treatments to give your body the toned look you deserve after making the commitment to lose weight.
Men and women seeking plastic surgery after weight loss come from throughout the Baltimore-Washington corridor to our practice. Save $50 on your consultation (regularly $100) by contacting us using our online form, or you can call our office at (410) 740-9330 to schedule an appointment.
A Modern Approach
Plastic surgery after weight loss encompasses a range of cosmetic and reconstructive procedures, which can tighten, lift, and contour different areas of the body and face. The first step is talking to Dr. Chang or Dr. Tilt about what you want to achieve through plastic surgery. Your surgeon will create a detailed surgical plan that may be completed all at once or in stages, depending on your goals and the extent of surgery needed.
Body contouring procedures that are typically part of a post-weight loss surgical plan include:
Abdominoplasty (Tummy tuck): A tummy tuck removes excess skin and fat, along with stretch marks, and repairs bulging, separated abdominal muscles. This is among the most popular procedures after weight loss.
Lower body lift: Patients with loose skin hanging virtually everywhere on their midsection and lower bodies are candidates for this procedure, which involves making incisions that stretch around the sides of the body. Sometimes called a belt lipectomy, this procedure improves the look of the midsection, buttocks, and legs.
Arm lift: Post-weight loss patients often have excess skin on their upper arms that is sometimes referred to as “bat wings.” An arm lift, also called brachioplasty, is an effective solution for removing the excess skin via an incision along the inside of the upper arm.
Breast lift: Women who lose a lot of weight are often left with saggy breasts. Your surgeon may combine a breast lift with implants to both elevate and enlarge the breasts.
Buttock lift: This is sometimes confused with a Brazilian butt lift, a procedure that actually augments the buttocks by adding fat. A buttock lift removes sagging skin and gives the buttocks a more elevated appearance.
Thigh lift: Depending on your specific concerns, thigh lifts may involve an incision on the outside of the thighs or the inside. Dr. Chang and Dr. Tilt perform inner thigh lifts, the most common form, by making incisions in the fold of the groin, removing excess skin, and repositioning tissue to tighten the area.
Facelift & Neck lift: Although this procedure is often thought of as an anti-aging treatment, it’s often a good choice for weight loss patients who are left with jowls or stretch neck skin. Even younger patients who undergo significant weight loss can benefit from a facelift and neck lift, which our surgeons typically perform during a single operation.
Safety of Post-Weight Loss Surgery
Combining 2 or more plastic surgery procedures is common and safe, but it requires an experienced plastic surgeon who understands the unique circumstances presented by performing multiple procedures during a single operation. Patient safety is our top priority, and our surgeons generally limit surgery to 6 or 7 hours. A typical procedure may combine a tummy tuck with an arm lift or lower body lift. Additional procedures, such as a facelift or breast lift, may be scheduled after you are completely healed from the first surgery.
Good Candidates for Post-Weight Loss Surgery
Plastic surgery after weight loss is a significant medical procedure, and you should be as healthy as possible before you begin the process of choosing a plastic surgeon. For many patients, this is a given because they have already been making healthy choices and positive steps for many months in order to lose weight. A good post-weight loss surgery candidate:
- Has maintained a stable weight for at least 6 months to a year
- Is satisfied with his or her current weight and doesn’t want to lose more weight
- Is not being treated for chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease
- Has a healthy diet without protein deficiencies that can impair healing after surgery
- Does not smoke
- Is mentally prepared for the recovery following what may be multiple surgeries
- Has realistic expectations about the results of body contouring surgery
We also advise patients to be cleared for plastic surgery by a primary care doctor before moving forward.
It’s also important to keep in mind that health insurance companies generally consider most post-weight loss surgery as elective and don’t provide coverage for the cost of your operation. An exception is if your sagging skin causes chronic infections because it traps bacteria and rubs against other skin. In these cases, you may be able to obtain insurance coverage from your provider by working with your primary doctor. We are happy to work with your medical team and discuss these issues during your consultation.
The recovery from post-weight loss surgery varies from patient to patient, depending on the procedures performed and your age and overall health. The benefit of combining procedures is avoiding multiple recoveries, but it is important to take the time necessary to heal before resuming any strenuous exercising or other physical activities (usually about 6 weeks).
The first few days following surgery typically are the most difficult, and it is important to get up and walk around. Walking helps promote circulation, which enhances the healing process. Swelling and bruising gradually fade but can take months to fully dissipate.
We provide detailed postoperative instructions to all patients and encourage you to contact us with any questions or concerns along your road to recovery. Plastic surgery patients who get body contouring after weight loss tend to be among the most satisfied because of the transformative power of the treatments, restoring confidence after a long journey of self-improvement.
Post-Weight Loss Surgery FAQ
How do I find the best doctor for post-weight loss surgery near me?
Skin removal is a specialized form of plastic surgery and you want to be certain that the doctor you choose is highly experienced with it. This is especially true if you are getting a total body lift. Because of this, we suggest that you both narrow your search only to those with a lot of experience in these surgeries and expand your geographical radius. It could be that you will get better results if you are willing to travel a little.
Is post-weight loss surgery just about skin removal?
While eliminating excess skin is often what drives patients to seek their procedure, it isn’t the only thing that surgery can accomplish. Typically, patients will want to add other procedures as well that help them better embrace and even celebrate their new body. These include tummy tucks, liposuction, neck contouring, and breast lifts.
How long will the surgery take?
This will depend on the exact procedures you want to have done. For example, just an upper or lower body lift will take less time than a total body lift. If you add other procedures, like a tummy tuck, the surgery will go on for even longer. However, this shouldn’t be a major concern. You will be under general anesthesia, so the time won’t even register for you.
Is post-weight loss surgery painful?
After any surgical procedure, you should anticipate pain. How you experience this pain is highly individualized. Keep in mind that you are not on your own with this; we will prescribe the appropriate medications and work with you if you find that the pain is still more than you are comfortable with.
What does post-weight loss surgery cost?
Again, this will depend on several factors. First, the price depends on the surgeries you get. So a total body lift will cost more than a partial one, and adding a tummy tuck and implants will further raise the price. However, for some elements, your insurance may offer partial or complete coverage. Excess skin is, in some cases, a health concern, leading to insurance providers covering it for some people. Additionally, a tummy tuck may be covered in part if it is used to repair the abdominal muscles. If you are interested in multiple procedures, we strongly suggest you have them done at the same time since getting them done at another time means paying for things like operating room rental and anesthesia all over again.
What should I expect from the recovery period?
No matter which procedures you get, you can anticipate a recovery period of at least 4 weeks, perhaps up to 8. As a general rule, the more procedures you get done at once, the longer your recovery period will be. A tummy tuck in particular tends to come with a lengthier recovery period.
Expect to mostly rest the first week, getting up and walking every now and then to promote healing and prevent stiffness. For the first 2 to 4 weeks, you will be limited in your movement and lifting. By about 6 weeks, most patients are back to their usual routines.