I can’t pretend to know much about cosmetic surgery or body contouring after WLS since I haven’t had any. I have friends however who have and I know from my postbag that so many of you are hoping for it or considering it. Sadly there isn’t anything like as much provision on the NHS or with insurers to cope with the demand I’m told and the guidelines in the UK for it are complex (see here).
I asked my friends at Ramsay Health Care if they could give me some basic details of what is on offer and what is involved for both cosmetic surgery and body contouring and below is there general feature and a guest blog. There are some links to their own pages with a bit more information included and where you can request further information. Hope it helps …
Cosmetic surgery after weight loss is a personal choice. You will need to research the types of cosmetic surgery available and discuss the pros & cons
Why you might need cosmetic surgery after weight loss
Dramatic weight loss is a major accomplishment and has many benefits especially that of enhancing your health and self-esteem. However many people who achieve such weight loss are left with large amounts of heavy, lose folds of excess skin around their abdomen, thighs, buttocks, breasts, arms, face and neck. This is because the skin is stretched over a long period of time with the accumulation of fat and when a large amount of weight is lost the skin and tissues often lack elasticity, or they may be permanently damaged, and cannot shrink back to the new, vastly reduced body size.
If you have succeeded in losing substantial weight and are left with excess folds of skin then cosmetic surgery may be the only way to help reshape your body and complete your weight-loss journey.
Problems of excess skin
Excess skin can make your daily activities such as getting dressed a chore. It can limit your mobility and also cause hygiene and medical problems such as infected sores and rashes. You may also be frustrated that your body does not reflect the more positive image that you now have of yourself.
Is cosmetic surgery for me?
Cosmetic surgery after weight loss is a personal choice. You will need to research the types of cosmetic surgery available and discuss the pros and cons of each with your cosmetic surgeon before making a final decision. You should be mindful of the fact that most cosmetic procedures are major surgery and as such will carry risks and will result in a scar. Your consultant will advise you of the risks involved in the specific procedure you are considering and the possible scars, although in most procedures the scars are hidden in places that are covered by clothes.
Research has shown that patients who undergo reconstructive body contouring plastic surgery following massive weight loss, experience significant improvements in their physical function, emotional wellbeing, body image satisfaction, physical wellbeing and quality of life¹.
Am I suitable for cosmetic surgery after weight loss surgery?
It is recommended that you wait at least 18 months following your weight loss surgery before having cosmetic surgery to allow your skin to shrink as much as possible and your weight loss to stabilise. You will also need to be in good health.
If you have a chronic medical condition such as diabetes or heart disease your doctor may not recommend cosmetic surgery for you.
If you smoke you will also need to give up 6 weeks prior to surgery.
You will also need to be realistic about what to expect from your cosmetic surgery and you should be aware that your skin will continue to age.
What is body contouring?
Body contouring surgery following major weight loss is the collective name given to the range of cosmetic procedures designed to remove excess sagging fat and skin while improving the shape of the underlying support tissue.
The most problematic areas are the stomach, thighs, buttocks, breasts, upper arms, face and neck. Your surgeon will work with you and make recommendations about the best strategy to address the areas that are problematic to you in the most efficient manner. The result of body contouring is a more normal and slimmer appearance with smoother contours.
Types of body contouring procedures
1. Tummy tuck or apronectomy
A tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) is performed to remove excess fat and skin from the abdomen and to tighten the underlying abdominal muscles. It improves abdominal contours giving you a flatter and tighter stomach.
An apronectomy, also called a panniculectomy, is a modification of the tummy tuck for patients who have an overhanging ‘apron’ of skin and fat over the pubic area. It is performed on the lower abdomen below the belly button and only the surplus skin and fat is removed².
2. Thigh lift
A thigh lift as the name suggests will correct sagging skin on the thighs which has been overstretched due to weight gain. It produces more toned thighs that are in proportion to your legs and the rest of your body.
3. Lower body lift
Many patients find that the majority of weight loss occurs in areas such as the buttocks, hips, and thighs. A body lift, also known as a belt lipectomy removes excess skin from the abdomen, hips, outer thighs, and buttocks.
4. Breast surgery
Women who have lost substantial weight are often faced with sagging and flattened breasts. Cosmetic breast surgery including breast uplift, breast enlargement (augmentation) using implants or both will remove excess skin whilst tightening and improving the overall shape of your breasts.
For men large sagging breasts can result following weight loss. This is normally treated with a combination of liposuction and skin removal around the breast area called gynecomastia surgery.
5. Arm lift
An arm lift (brachioplasty) will reduce the fat and excess sagging skin in your upper arm. It tightens and smoothes the underlying supportive tissue that defines the shape of the upper arm.
After weight loss you may notice a sagging of your mid-face, jowls and neck. After a face and neck lift you would expect a smoother and wrinkle free face and neck area.
Facelift surgery (rhytidectomy) removes slack facial skin and any unwanted fatty deposits. A neck lift (platysmaplasty) helps to correct sagging skin and wrinkles around the neck and jaw area. With both procedures the scar is hidden along the front of the ear and in the hair.
Multiple surgeries at once
Your cosmetic surgeon will guide you in deciding whether to have multiple surgeries at once or to space them out over time. Combining a few different procedures at the same time limits the total number of operations and recoveries you will need to have. Most cosmetic surgeries can be combined any way you want. For example, breast reshaping and tummy tuck is a common procedure offered to many patients.
You will need to consider that the more procedures you combine the longer you will spend in the operating room. You will also be under anaesthesia longer and will receive more anaesthesia which may leave you feeling a bit more run down after the surgery.
Feature courtesy of Ramsay Health Care