Body Contouring After Weight-Loss Surgery
What is body-contouring surgery?
Body contouring is a type of surgery that improves how you look. It’s done after you
lose a large amount of weight. This type of surgery gets rid of extra skin folds and
other nearby tissue. This gives your body smoother contours.
When people gain a lot of weight, their skin slowly stretches over time. If you lose
a lot of weight, your skin might not have enough elasticity to spring back into place.
This can cause extra skin folds of tissue. You may have this tissue on your lower
belly, thighs, arms, chin, and breasts. This may have happened after you lost weight
after weight-loss surgery. Many people who have had weight-loss surgery are interested
in learning about body-contouring surgery.
During this surgery, a cosmetic surgeon removes extra areas of tissue. For instance,
your surgeon may make a cut around your midsection. This is to remove extra skin and
fat around this area. Depending on your needs, your surgeon may also make cuts to
lift your breasts or remove extra tissue from your arms or thighs. Your surgeon then
sews the tissue that’s left back together. This makes a smoother contour. All of this
happens while you are asleep under general anesthesia.
Why might I need body-contouring surgery?
If you lost a lot of weight after weight-loss surgery, this surgery may be an option
for you. You may not like how you look if you have extra folds of skin tissue.
These skin folds are not just unsightly, but they can also cause other problems. These
Swelling, rash, or ulcers between the skin folds in your groin (this can lead to an
Problems with hygiene in these areas, especially the groin
Trouble with sexual activity
What are the risks of body-contouring surgery?
Body contouring is a generally safe procedure, but it comes with some risks.
People who have lost a lot of weight may be at a higher risk for problems than people
who are having this surgery for other reasons. Some complications from this surgery
Blood clots. This includes if the clot travels to the lung (pulmonary embolism).
Problems with wound healing that in some cases may need additional surgery
Infection that can lead to septic shock in severe cases
Heavy bleeding that may need additional procedures including transfusions or surgery
Problems from anesthesia
Pain that doesn’t go away
Problems with the heart, including irregular heartbeat (arrhythmias) and heart attack
You also may not get the results you want from surgery with a poor cosmetic outcome.
Then you may need to have another surgery to fix this.
Your risks depend on your age, the amount of weight you lost, your health conditions,
and the amount of tissue you need removed. Ask your surgeon about the risks that apply
How do I get ready for body-contouring surgery?
First, ask your healthcare provider if this surgery is right for you. If you have
certain health issues, the risks of the surgery might not be worth it.
Your surgeon will want to make sure that you have a realistic idea of what the surgery
can do. You will also need to commit to a healthy lifestyle. This includes good nutrition
and regular exercise.
The surgery may cost you a lot of money. Most health insurance plans will not cover
it unless you have a major complication. These may include an infection and ulceration
around a skin fold. Find out what the surgery will cost you before you make plans
to have it.
You shouldn’t have this surgery until you have reached a stable weight. If you lose
weight after your surgery, new pockets of sagging skin may form. If you gain a lot
of weight after your surgery, it can harm your already weakened skin. This can cause
more stretch marks and wide scars.
If you smoke, you must quit at least several weeks before your surgery. Smoking greatly
increases your risk for complications. Most surgeons won't do this surgery if you
are still smoking.
Ask your surgeon if you need to stop taking any medicines before the surgery. These
include over-the-counter medicines, such as aspirin. You shouldn’t eat anything after
midnight before the day of your surgery. But you may be able to have some clear liquids
up to the morning of the surgery. These include water and tea without milk. Tell your
surgeon about any recent health issues, such as a fever.
Your surgeon may do tests before you have surgery. These may include:
Electrocardiogram. This checks your heart rhythm.
Pulmonary function tests. This checks your lung function.
Basic blood tests. These check for infection, diabetes, anemia, and kidney function.
Ask your surgeon how to get ready for your surgery. They may have more instructions
What happens during body-contouring surgery?
Your surgeon will explain the details of your surgery. Your surgeon and a team of
nurses will do the surgery. In general, you can expect the following:
A healthcare provider will give you general anesthesia. This is done so you will sleep
through the procedure and won’t feel anything. In rare cases, you will get spinal
anesthesia and a medicine to relax you. In this case, you will be awake.
Someone will carefully watch your heart rate, blood pressure, and other vital signs.
You will get antibiotics during and after the surgery. This is to help prevent infection.
Your surgeon makes a cut in the area to be contoured. This may be done in your midsection.
This is to remove extra skin and tissue. Your surgeon will try to make it so that
your scar won’t be easily visible.
Your surgeon surgically reconnects the skin. This will make a smooth contour.
If needed, your surgeon repeats the same procedure on other parts of your body. You
may have this done in a series of surgeries instead.
The healthcare staff will put dressings on your wounds.
What happens after body-contouring surgery?
When you wake up, you may have a tube underneath your skin. This will drain fluid
that builds up in your wound. You may have some pain afterward. You can take pain
medicines. You should be able to eat a normal diet once you are ready.
You may need to stay overnight in the hospital after your surgery. Or you may be able
to go home the same day. Make sure someone is able to drive you home.
Your surgeon will tell you how to care for your wounds. Tell your surgeon if you have
severe draining, redness, or a fever. If you have life-threatening symptoms, call
911. These include sudden shortness of breath or chest pain.
Your surgeon will also tell you how to limit your movements after surgery. You shouldn’t
expose your wounds to too much force as they heal. Follow all of your surgeon’s orders
carefully. This will improve your chances of a smooth recovery.
You will see the results of your surgery right away. They will last if you keep a
stable weight. If you are not happy with the results of your surgery, talk with your
surgeon. Some people may need another surgery for best results.
Before you agree to the test or the procedure make sure you know:
The name of the test or procedure
The reason you are having the test or procedure
What results to expect and what they mean
The risks and benefits of the test or procedure
What the possible side effects or complications are
When and where you are to have the test or procedure
Who will do the test or procedure and what that person’s qualifications are
What would happen if you did not have the test or procedure
Any alternative tests or procedures to think about
When and how will you get the results Who to call after the test or procedure if you
have questions or problems
How much will you have to pay for the test or procedure