A Follow-up Procedure to Bariatric Surgery
By Patrick W. Hsu
Obesity is a major problem in America, but fortunately there are procedures available to help such individuals make a difference in their lives. Patients who have undergone surgery to make weight loss possible, such as gastric bypass or lap banding, often find their rapid shedding of pounds has led to an excess of loose skin. Extremely obese individuals often experience a loss in skin elasticity due to the prolonged periods of stretching from the increased volume of weight. While most common in the belly area, excess skin can also exist in the breasts, back, thighs, hips, knees, and even the face. The only way to tighten the skin is through surgery, which unfortunately leads to scarring.
The full extent of scarring will depend on how much skin is to be removed, with long scars remaining along the hips, stomach, on the inside of the legs, and underneath the arms. Patients with only a small amount of loose skin will probably want to forgo this procedure, as the scarring would probably not be worth the surgery results.
Full Body Lift Surgery involves all of the following contouring procedures:
|Loose abdominal skin||Tummy Tuck|
|Loose arm skin||Arm Lift (brachioplasty)|
|Loose breast skin||Breast Lift (mastopexy)|
|Loose inner thigh skin||Inner thigh lift|
|Loose thigh and buttock skin||Outer thigh and buttock lift|
Before surgery, the entire body is evaluated to determine the exact amount of skin to be removed and to gauge the length of the required procedure. General anesthesia is used for the operation, which can last anywhere from 2 to 8 hours depending on the amount of excess skin removed. The procedure typically begins with a full tummy tuck before extending out to the breasts, arms, and thigh area.
Patients should expect modest pain, swelling, and bruising in the affected areas immediately following the procedure. Recovery times depend on the amount of skin to be removed and the overall difficulty of the procedure. Some patients may stay in the hospital up to a week for monitoring afterward. Below is a table of expected timeframes for full recovery.
|Pain controlled with medication||5 to10 days|
|Tubes and drains left in skin||1 to 2 weeks|
|Swelling subsides||2 to 6 weeks|
|Return to work||As early as 2 weeks, 4 to 6 weeks recommended|
|Resume exercise||6 to 8 weeks|
|Fully healed scars||6 months to 1 year|
While no procedure can be considered truly permanent, patients most often report lifetime success after going through a full body lift. Of course, the body remains susceptible to the ravages of poor diet, lack of exercise, and aging, so an overall improvement in lifestyle is highly recommended. It is important to note that patients who have undergone the procedure are more likely to experience loose and sagging skin as they age than their peers may expect.
Your Life after Body Lift Surgery
A renewal in self-confidence and greater self-esteem is most often reported by patients who have undergone this life-changing procedure. Free of the constant reminder of the excess weight they used to carry, patients report a much higher level of satisfaction with their lives in general. By removing this extra weight, you will feel more comfortable with your body image and shape, fit into clothes that make you feel attractive and boost your new self-confidence even more.