Plastic Surgery After Weight Loss

Making the commitment to lose weight after becoming very obese sometimes involves only diet and exercise, but more often requires bariatric surgery to lose the weight which can often be a hundred pounds or more.  Bariatric surgery includes a wide range of surgical procedures designed to limit food intake to the stomach, or alter the natural flow or absorption of food in the intestines.  Usually these procedures can be done using laparoscopic techniques and are performed by general surgeons who specialize in this field.  The weight loss after bariatric surgery usually takes over a year, and depending on the procedure, requires periodic monitoring of nutritional parameters and protein intake.  What many people don’t realize, however, is that the extreme gain and loss of fat can leave profound changes to the skin and other soft tissues such as the breast.  

The patient who has lost a lot of weight may look fine in clothes, but is often disheartened by the folds of skin that are left behind.  The common areas that are affected include the abdomen, waist, thighs, buttocks, upper arms, breasts and face.  Many patients cling to the hope that the passage of time, or more frequent visits to the gym will improve the skin.  It won’t.  Muscles can be toned at the gym.  The skin can’t.  Plastic surgery is really the only answer.  Surgeries to correct the effects of weight loss are commonly performed by Dr. Mackenzie in Santa Barbara.

Depending on the severity of the problem and the areas to be treated, the surgery is often staged in two or more surgeries, spaced several weeks apart to allow healing in between.  Scars are a necessary evil.  There is no way to completely hide the lengthy incisions that are needed to essentially solve the geometric problem of too large an area of skin covering a newer, smaller person underneath.

Surgical drains are used for most procedures, compression garments are worn for a few weeks, and scarring is mitigated during the healing process with silicone gel sheeting.  The goal at surgery is too remove as much skin as possible while still being able to close the wound without undue tension which can lead to the wound pulling open (dehiscence) or a widened scar.  However, patients that have had massive weight gain usually have permanently poor elasticity of their skin, so that over the first several months after surgery, some loosening of the skin is expected.  Even though some laxity returns, patients love the new shape that comes plastic surgery.  

Bariatric surgery can be a life changing procedure but to get the best result plastic surgery is often necessary.

To find out more, please click on the following procedures: abdominoplasty, (tummy tuck) thigh lift, belt lipectomy, mastopexy (breast lift), facelift

Dr. Douglas Mackenzie, MD, FACS, Santa Barbara

Author
Douglas J. Mackenzie, MD

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