Plastic Surgery after Weight Loss
Body contouring refers to a group of surgical procedures aimed at enhancing the look of the body. It is an effective approach to eliminating the excess hanging skin that occurs after losing massive amounts of weight. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, every year over 50,000 body contouring procedures are performed in the United States alone.
Physical Effect of Weight Loss on Body Shape and Form
The physical changes that a patient undergoes after significant weight loss or bariatric surgery largely depends on age, gender, weight before surgery, amount of weight lost and genetics. As a body gains weight, the skin expands and stretches to grow with the body's new size. Significant skin expansion can result in breakage of the collagen layer of skin (known as dermis), resulting in stretch marks. Also, the connective tissue mesh that holds the skin tightly against the muscles is stretched and loosened. When the body looses significant weight, the fatty layer under the skin and within the connective tissue mesh is largely lost. The deflated skin however, is unable to contract appropriately due to loss of skin and connective tissue elasticity. This presents as excess sagging skin. Many of the changes that occur follow a predictable pattern. Most patients see changes with form, shape, and contour of their upper chest, breasts, arms, back, abdomen, buttocks, thighs and calves.
The arms exhibit mild to severe hanging, loose skin that is most prominent under the arms, extending from the elbow to the hanging arm pit and then through to the upper back. The breasts typically become deflated and flattened, producing excessive sagging. The upper chest has loose, hanging skin that rolls over the chest and back, often concealing the breasts. Because of the weight of the hanging tissue of the abdomen, the mammary crease under each breast is pulled downward. This results in the breasts being displaced lower on the chest. The combination of the loose skin on the chest and breasts creates a boxy contour. The abdominal area with its loose, hanging skin can extend and cover the pubic region, which in turn is also sagging. The skin on the lower back rolls from the abdominal region over the waist area. The buttocks becomes flattened, deflated and sags. The thighs also end up with loose skin that sags all around and folds can develop as a result.
It is important to note that the weight loss and the subsequent excess skin that occurs are unique to each individual. This needs to be considered when contemplating body lift surgery in order for it to be successful and satisfactory. Body contouring is a customized procedure to correct the shape and form of a body and understanding the deformity and desired outcome is essential.
Advances in Body Contouring Surgery
While losing the weight may leave some with a normal appearance, often it results in excess skin and soft tissue that affects the entire body. In recent years, many patients have opted out to restore their shape through plastic surgery and body contouring procedures. Plastic surgery after weight loss has become its own discipline within the field of plastic surgery, with a hand full of plastic surgeons that specialize in this field and treat patients on a regular basis. Specialized body contouring procedures have been developed by us and other plastic surgeons in order to correct the extreme anatomical changes of weight loss patients. These body contouring procedures have evolved significantly within the past 5 years and are now very different from the original procedures that are utilized for non-bariatric patients. This is an important consideration for plastic surgeons because traditional techniques of shaping and contouring do not convey well to bariatric patients.
What is a total body lift?
Total body lift surgery is a phrase that refers to a series of procedures that are performed by plastic surgeons who specialize in body contouring. A total body lift surgery eliminates excess skin on the lower and upper body.
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