Body Contouring After Weight Loss
Congratulations! You have met your weight loss goals! You should be truly proud of this achievement.
Unfortunately, a side effect of massive weight loss can be an excess of sagging skin that gets in the way of being active and enjoying your new life to the fullest. Excess skin and flab can make it difficult to find clothes that fit, play sports, bare your beautiful new figure, or just feel good about all of your hard work in getting to this point.
Dr. Gerstle can help you sculpt the outside of your body to make it match the inner, stronger, fitter you.
Areas of the body that can be improved by lifting the underlying tissues and trimming excess skin and fat include the area along the upper arm, the thighs and butt, the “apron” that hangs from the lower tummy, and both male and female breasts. A facelift/necklift may also be desired as the face and neck can be dramatically affected by weight loss.
Quality of life is the reason you made the effort to lose weight or went through bariatric surgery. If your quality of life is being impacted by the vestiges of this process, we can help!
Safety of Body Contouring After Weight Loss
All surgical procedures carry risk. It is important to be frank in your consultations with Dr. Gerstle so that he can take all measures to mitigate the risks of body contouring surgery.
You must have achieved a stable weight before going forward with body contouring surgery. Dr. Gerstle will want to know that you’ve maintained your present weight for at least six months, preferably one to two years, before undergoing the procedures. Should you gain (or lose) a lot of weight down the road, the effects of the surgery can become distorted or possibly even threatening to your health. Your commitment to your new life must include a longstanding change in your eating habits and fitness, for your physical as well as psychological health. If you smoke, quitting—or at least stopping for the duration of your surgical procedures and post-op healing—is a necessity.
Risks of bleeding, blood clots, infection, or reaction to the anesthesia are uncommon but possible effects of any surgery. You will be monitored closely following the procedures, and communication with Dr. Gerstle and our staff throughout the process is vital.
Changes in sensation are usually temporary, but occasionally can become permanent. We take the time to fully discuss outcomes before the surgery so that you have a realistic expectation of the results.
It’s important to understand that you will have scarring from the procedures. Dr. Gerstle will do his very best to minimize and hide scarring where possible. You can speed wound healing and aid scar fading by stopping smoking, keeping healing incisions out of the sun, and not putting pressure on incisions until they’ve completely closed. Dr. Gerstle will recommend a scar cream to use at a month into recovery.
Following all of our post-op instructions to the letter—including resting and waiting until you are ready for activities like driving, lifting heavy items, swimming, exercising—will ensure the best results and longevity for your body contouring outcome.
Body Contouring After Weight Loss—The Procedure
Body contouring surgeries are performed under general anesthesia due to the need for the multiple and sometimes extensive incisions required to access the various areas around the body for fat removal and skin excision.
Liposuction may or may not be part of your procedure. Excess skin removal, tightening underlying tissues, and redraping the skin will undoubtedly be involved in one or more of your surgeries.
If necessary, Dr. Gerstle may place a drain to collect fluids following the surgery. This will be removed in our office within a week or two.
Body Contouring After Weight Loss Post-Op
It’s important to have someone to drive you home after the surgery. If you live alone, make sure that you have someone with you for at least 24 hours to cook, answer the phone, and help you to the bathroom. Dr. Gerstle will provide you with his personal cell phone number in case of emergency or questions. If drains have been placed, we will see you in the office within a week to get them removed. All postoperative patients are seen the following day after surgery.
Since body contouring surgery is tailored to your needs, post-op will vary from patient to patient. Generally speaking, you will likely need at least several weeks of downtime to avoid disturbing your healing incisions. Lower body work typically has a more significant healing time and requires more rest. Expect to experience pain, soreness, swelling, and tiredness for at least several days or more. The more that you can take it easy, the better.
You may need to take several weeks before you’re able to return to normal activities like shopping and working. Certain body positions—like sitting, lying in certain positions, or standing for long periods—may be difficult or impossible for some time. Compression garments may be required on certain parts of your body.
Consult with Dr. Gerstle regarding when you may be able to begin a workout regimen. Lifting heavy objects, contact sports, and strenuous exercise will likely be off limits for at least six weeks.
For swelling, bruising, and redness to fully clear and to see the full results of your surgery can take up to six months.
Benefits of Body Contouring After Weight Loss
- Completion of a long, hard-earned journey
- Removal of excess skin, which can cause discomfort, rashes, and fungal infections
- Lifting and sculpting areas that can’t be reached with exercise
- Correcting asymmetries that are a result of uneven weight loss
- Greater confidence both in and out of your clothes
- Maximizing the results of your efforts
- Removal of stretch marks
The New You—Working With Dr. Gerstle
During your initial consultation, Dr. Gerstle will take a full medical history and do a thorough physical exam. Being overweight can cause a variety of health problems, and it is important for Dr. Gerstle to be aware of any medical issues—physical and psychological—you might have had before you lost weight and to be aware of any that remain. As every individual’s weight loss journey is unique, taking the final steps to achieve your goals will be unique as well. You will have a frank discussion of your cosmetic goals so that Dr. Gerstle has a clear idea of your expectations. Utilizing digital images of your own body, our in-office “Mirror Imaging” system will help you to see what your new figure will look like as well as realize any limitations that may exist. He will also take detailed measurements of your body for comparison’s sake once the body contouring procedures are concluded.
For some patients, body contouring will consist of simple liposuction. However, most will require a combination of several procedures and techniques. For your safety, Dr. Gerstle may recommend performing the surgeries in stages to allow your body time to heal in between.
Dr. Gerstle may order certain lab tests to rule out any medical conditions that may interfere with the procedures you have planned. Some of these procedures may include, but are not limited to, an arm lift, thigh lift, abdominoplasty, mastopexy, or facelift. Please refer to the individual pages to get a general idea of what to expect with each procedure and their associated recovery periods. Make sure to ask any and all questions—even if you are feeling a bit awkward. This will put your mind at ease as you go forward to create the body you deserve!
Body Contouring After Weight Loss FAQ
Why is body contouring valuable after weight loss?
Body contouring removes the excess skin and fat deposits following bariatric surgery or dramatic weight loss. It can also add tone when the body lacks shape after large quantities of weight have been shed.
Does body contouring leave scars?
Yes, there will be some scarring depending on the extent of the surgical intervention that is necessary to achieve your new look. Some sites lend themselves better to hiding scars than others. Liposuction generally requires a smaller incision than those required for lift procedures and skin excisions. Not smoking and keeping your scars protected from the sun will help them to heal as fully and cleanly as possible.
Is body contouring permanent?
The results from body contouring will last indefinitely as long as you maintain your target weight and stay active. You will, of course, experience changes with age. Body contouring after weight loss gives you an excellent opportunity to start fresh along with the motivation to maintain your beautiful new look!
Is body contouring right for me?
You should be stable in your new weight before undergoing body contouring surgery. Excessive weight loss or gain post-surgery can cause stretch marks and affect your new shape. Make sure you are committed to your new lifestyle—and your new, fabulous look—before going forward with body contouring.
Is body contouring always needed after gastric bypass surgery?
Not necessarily, but body contouring is frequently helpful following bariatric surgery. If the surgery leaves you with lots of excess skin that gets in the way of your normal activities, body contouring is a good option. Other effects that patients may experience following gastric bypass include rashes and skin conditions, body odor, and self-consciousness that can result from the look of excess skin.
Can I have body contouring surgery directly after a gastric bypass?
There will be a gap between your bariatric surgery and when you’ve lost enough weight to qualify for body contouring; expect the process to take one to two years.
Can body contouring be combined with other procedures?
Body contouring takes an integrated approach to lifting sagging body areas, removing excess skin, and trimming excess fat. All of these procedures together allow Dr. Gerstle to give your body the shape and contour that you may lack following significant weight loss.
What is a “mommy makeover”?
A mommy makeover addresses the toll that pregnancy takes on a woman’s body by tailoring full body plastic surgical procedures to her specific needs. The surgery often focuses on restoring the breasts and abdomen, which can undergo significant changes due to the stresses and processes of pregnancy. Breasts that have begun to sag or have lost volume can be addressed with mastopexy or breast implants. Overly large breasts may require breast reduction. Abdominoplasty removes excess fat and skin tissue and strengthens the underlying muscle to create a taut, pre-baby look. Improvement to the thighs, arms, and glutes may also be included in the mommy makeover.
Financing Options for Body Contouring After Weight Loss
We offer plastic surgery financing through CareCredit.
CareCredit is a healthcare credit card designed for your health and wellness needs for you and your entire family. Use it to pay for out-of-pocket expenses not covered by medical insurance, and special financing options are available that you may not be able to get with other cards.
Pay for health, and wellness care at over 200,000 enrolled providers across the nation. Once you’ve applied, you can use it again and again at any location that accepts CareCredit.For more information and to apply, please visit CareCredit.com.
Theo Gerstle, MD