We are all aware of the health risks associated with morbid obesity. It brings with it a multitude of medical co-morbidities such as hypertension, diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea and many more.
Bariatric surgery is an effective way of solving most of these problems but with rapid weight loss, patients might encounter layers of loose hanging skin. This happens especially in cases of super-obese patients. This loose skin may be seen on the abdomen, chest, arms, thighs or buttocks. This loose skin not only affects the appearance but also causes hygiene problems and restricts mobility.
Body Contouring after bariatric surgery removes all the excess sagging skin and tightens the underlying supporting tissue while keeping the scars hidden and imperceptible. Loose skin in many ways is a reminder of the excess weight you once carried and body contouring surgery helps you achieve a proportionate well-toned body with smoother curves letting you get rid of the stigma once and for all.
The base of the skin is made up of collagen which gives firmness and strength to the skin and elastin which provides elasticity and helps keep your skin tight. With increasing weight, the overlying skin has also expanded to accommodate the extra fat. If the skin remains significantly stretched for a long period of time the collagen and elastin fibres are damaged and the skin loses its ability to retract or spring back to earlier shape and size.
This extra loose skin needs a permanent solution for removal. Surgical procedure is your best option in such a situation. Hence, plastic surgeons trained in Body Contouring have become an indispensable part of the post-bariatric management team helping patients achieve a healthy and well-toned look.
Depending on which part of the body has loose skin and what bothers the patients the most, different procedures can be suggested to the patient:
- Arm Lift/Brachioplasty: This addresses the excess skin on the arms and usually also the lateral thorax. Along with skin excision, we also perform circumferential liposuction. The scars are hidden and utmost care is taken to give a thin, minimal scar.
- Breast Lift/Mastopexy: The breasts may have a deflated look with ptosis of the nipple following massive and rapid weight loss. Surgery to reshape the breast to give a fuller look is performed in such situations. The available extra skin is used to our advantage in these cases to perform autoaugmentation of the breast without the use of implants.
- Abdominoplasty: This is the most commonly performed procedure for post-bariatric patients. The extra skin hanging like an apron on the abdomen is removed. The ptosis of the mons pubis area is corrected. The underlying muscle and fascial structure are also shaped to give the mid-riff a round and attractive shape.
- Lower Body Lift: In some patients, the loose skin is present in the abdomen as well as the back and buttock area. Lower body lift helps to shape the buttocks, outer thighs and the abdomen. Circumferential excess is treated.
- Inner Thigh Lift: The loose flabby skin on the inner thighs causes friction while walking and may cause repeated fungal infections. This extra skin is removed and the underlying structures are tightened to give the right shape to the thighs. Circumferential liposuction is performed to augment the results and give a lean look.
- Patients who have been at a stable weight for a period of at least 6 months and have loose skin. This is usually during a year and a half after your bariatric surgery.
- Patients on a good nutritious diet accepting the desired amount of protein daily.
- Patients committed to maintaining a healthy lifestyle after surgery.
- Patients who can't get rid of loose skin through exercise.
Reasons to undergo bariatric surgery are different in different people and usually, there are medical indications that push the patients to take the courageous step of undergoing surgery. Immense discipline is required to follow the post-operative regimen
After all the medical benefits are realized and the patient reach their targeted weight loss, body contouring can be the best option to look like your younger self. The loose skin hampers a lot of your activities. Hence, body contouring comes into the picture. Benefits of post-bariatric body contouring are as follows:
- Improved body image and self-esteem
- Freedom from repeated rashes and fungal infection that occur due to overhanging skin
- Better hygiene
- Improved interpersonal relationship
- Increased mobility
- Reduction of back and neck pain due to the excess weight of the skin.
In fact, recent studies have shown people undergoing body contouring following weight loss are more likely to stick to a healthy lifestyle and are less likely to regain weight.
Body contouring is a surface surgery and hence chances of major complications are low. You might encounter numbness around the incision, slow wound healing and minimal scars but it is completely safe.
Our Cosmetic surgery specialist, Dr. Giriraj Gandhi, brings with him 8 years of experience in post-bariatric body contouring. Dr. Gandhi helps patients to get rid of their excess loose skin after a year or two of bariatric surgery.