Losing a substantial amount of weight–50, 75, 100 pounds, or even more–is a major accomplishment. Whether you accomplished your goal solely through dietary changes and exercise or had bariatric surgery makes no difference: you should be proud of yourself. Although many people who succeed in losing weight are happy with their accomplishments, many are also surprised to find that their new, slimmer bodies aren’t as slim-looking as they expected.
Once the extra weight is gone, many people find that they have sagging, excess skin left over. This loose skin can create problems for people. For example, it can make it difficult to find clothing that fits. The skin can also rub together, causing chafing and discomfort. Depending on how much skin there is, it might be difficult to keep clean. The folds of skin can create an ideal habitat for bacteria and other germs to flourish.
For many people who have lost a large amount of weight, plastic surgery following the weight loss is the final step on the road to comfort and confidence. Here’s what you need to know about the procedure and why it can be so beneficial for patients.
Will The Skin “Bounce” Back on its Own?
One of the reasons people who lose a lot of weight end up with loose skin is skin elasticity. There’s only so far the skin can stretch before it’s unable to retract. Although the number of the scale might be dropping and a person’s waistline might be shrinking, the skin on their body isn’t always able to shrink enough to keep up. Skin is elastic, but just as the elastic band on a favorite pair of sweatpants gets worn out over time, so does the skin. Skin that’s been stretched to one size for years and years isn’t likely to spring back or shrink down once a person is a significantly smaller size.
Whether or not skin shrinks down after weight loss depends on a variety of factors. How much weight you lost, your age, and the condition of your skin all play a role. Certain factors, such as smoking or a lot of sun exposure, affect the elasticity of skin, making it less likely to retract satisfactorily.
Why Remove Excess Skin After Weight Loss?
Excess skin after weight loss is more than just a cosmetic concern. You might not like the way it looks, and in some cases, you might not like how it feels. Having folds of excess skin in certain areas, such as around the abdomen, can cause discomfort. The skin that hangs over the abdomen can rub against the other skin, leading to irritation. In hot weather, you’re more likely to sweat between the folds of skin, which can create hygiene issues. Chafing and trapped moisture can lead to skin rashes and infection, making excess skin a medical concern.
What Surgeries Are Available?
The best type of plastic surgery after weight loss for each patient depends in large part on where the excess skin is located and the patient’s overall goals. Some of the procedures that can minimize excess skin include a tummy tuck, which removes excess skin and fat from the abdominal area, and a thigh lift, which is performed to trim and tighten skin in the thighs. A body lift can be a good option for people who have lost a substantial amount of weight and who have excess skin in the abdomen, hips and lower back areas.
How Do I Know if Plastic Surgery After Weight Loss is Right for me?
Plastic surgery isn’t the right option for every person who’s lost a significant amount of weight. Your health, current weight, weight stability, lifestyle habits, and a few other factors can help you determine if surgery is a good choice for you.
Usually, it’s required that people be in good health before undergoing surgery. If you have conditions that aren’t well controlled, such as diabetes, a surgeon will most likely recommend that you wait until your health has stabilized before moving forward with surgery.
Where you are on your weight loss journey also influences determines whether or not surgery is right for you. If you’ve just begun to lose weight, you should wait at least two years before scheduling surgery. Ideally, your weight will have been stable for a least a year before your chosen procedure.
If you smoke, you will need to quit at least a few weeks before your surgery. Your diet can also play a role in determining whether or not surgery is right for you. Making sure you have enough protein and other nutrients in your diet is a crucial part of ensuring that your body can heal well after the procedure.
Dr. Paul Vitenas is a board certified plastic surgeon in Houston, Texas. He performs body surgeries including tummy tucks, body lifts, and thigh lifts on patients who have accomplished significant weight loss. To learn more about your surgical options after losing a considerable amount of weight, call 281-484-0088 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Vitenas today.