Facts About Body-Contouring Surgery

People who have weight loss surgery often find that they feel healthier and more energetic. But losing 100 pounds or more may also leave them with a lot of excess skin and a physical appearance that they’re unhappy with. For many of these people, body-contouring plastic surgery has become the final step on their weight loss journey.

Body-contouring surgery involves removing excess skin folds, usually from multiple parts of the body at once. This makes a body-contouring procedure more complicated than a standalone operation like a tummy tuck or breast lift, which have been performed for years. Body-contouring surgery patients may have skin removed from their abdomen, thighs, arms, face, neck, back, or breasts. These surgeries may be done by more than one surgeon in an effort to reduce the amount of time a patient is under anesthesia, but they may still take eight or more hours to complete.

Is Body-Contouring Surgery Safe?

As with any surgery, there are risks for complication associated with having body-contouring surgery. These risks may include wound infection, reopening of wounds that require surgical drainage, excess bleeding causing a second surgery, blood transfusions and, in rare cases, fatal blood clots. About 15% of body-contouring patients require blood transfusions. One of the best ways to avoid many of these complications, according to experts, is to allow sufficient time between your weight loss surgery and your body-contouring surgery.

Who Needs Body-Contouring Surgery

Not everyone who has weight loss surgery or loses a significant amount of weight will end up having body-contouring surgery. You may not be bothered by the appearance of excess skin, or your skin may sufficiently “snap back” after your weight loss. The older you are, the more likely you are to notice sagging skin after weight loss. If you lose a significant amount of your weight in one area, rather than weight loss that’s distributed fairly evenly over your entire body, you’re also more likely to have excess skin folds in the areas where you carried the majority of your weight before. Body-contouring surgery is not an inevitable follow-up procedure to bariatric surgery, but is available for people who want to get rid of large amounts of sagging skin after losing weight.

If you decide that body-contouring surgery is the right choice for you, you will need to make a considerable financial investment. The average cost of a full body lift is about $30,000, although some surgical centers will allow you to set up payment plans. In addition to financial planning for the surgery, doctors recommend taking a few other steps before surgery in order to decrease your risk for complications, including:

  • Maintaining your goal weight for at least 3 months.
  • Correcting any nutritional deficiencies that may have occurred after your weight loss surgery.
  • Quitting smoking.
  • Consuming 50 to 70 grams of protein a day, which will help speed your recovery.

Even with these preparations, body-contouring surgery will require a recovery period of about 4 to 6 weeks. Make sure that you’ve arranged for the time and support system you’ll need to allow your body to heal.

If you think that body-contouring surgery may be right for you, ask your bariatric surgeon to recommend a plastic and reconstructive surgeon with experience in body contouring.