Today, I had the pleasure of discussing Body Contouring with a group of patients that have undergone or will undergo surgery to allow for massive weight loss. We met at the James Flood Building on Market Street in San Francisco on a beautiful Saturday morning.
These patients attended because they wanted to know what they could do with the excess skin that many continue to have even after their weight loss. The frustrating thing about weight loss is that even though you’ve lost the weight and reduce your risk of high blood pressure and diabetes, you’re literally burdened by the excess skin left behind. And this keeps you from fitting into clothes that you’d expect to fit into after the weight loss and the hanging skin can create moist areas that could lead to infection.
Candidates for Body Contouring after Massive Weight Loss
These consumers want to rid themselves of their excess skin so that’s why they came to hear what a board certified plastic surgeon could do for them. It’s difficult to recreate my entire slide show here but in essence I discussed a few important points they need to know before surgery: 1) Don’t consider removal of excess skin until your weight has stabilized for 3 months. We don’t want to remove the excess skin too soon because if you’re still losing weight and you have the skin removal surgery, then the continued weight loss could lead to more excess skin and surgery isn’t something you want to repeat too often. 2) Quit smoking. 3) Be sure you’re taking supplements to replace important vitamins such as B12 and iron. It’s so important to have good nutrition so that you will have uninterrupted wound healing after surgery.
Types of Surgery
I break the two types of surgery into 1) liposuction and 2) skin removal. Even though most of these patients have lost fat, there are still a couple of stubborn areas where fat remains. These are the thighs and neck. Liposuction is a great tool that allows you to avoid big scars but this really depends on the quality of your skin. If you’re skin is too loose with little collagen, the removal of fat with liposuction could be like deflating a balloon and leave you with more excess skin afterwards. If you have good quality skin with an appropriate amount of collagen, your skin may tighten afterwards.
As for skin removal, these include common procedures such as tummy tucks, arm lifts and even thigh lifts. These unfortunately require larger scars than liposuction but the scars can often be concealed under clothes or in creases in the body (for example a thigh lift scar can be concealed in the groin).
I really enjoyed meeting all of these patients that are trying improve their lives everyday. And I want to thank Tara Griffith for organizing this get together.