What is Body Contouring?
Dramatic weight loss has many benefits. But after weight reduction surgery, or any substantial amount of weight loss, the skin and tissues often lack the elasticity to conform to the reduced body size.
Surgical body contouring following major weight loss removes excess sagging fat and skin while improving the shape of the underlying support tissue. The result is a more normal appearance with smoother contours.
Is it right for me?
Body contouring procedures may include:
- Facelift: sagging of the mid-face, jowls, and neck
- Breast lift: sagging, flattened breasts
- Tummy tuck: apron of excess skin hanging over the abdomen
- Lower body lifts: sagging of the abdomen, buttocks, groin, and outer thighs
- Medial thigh lift: sagging of the inner, outer and mid thigh
- Brachioplasty (arm lift): sagging of the upper arms
In general, good candidates for body contouring are:
- Adults whose weight loss has stabilized
- Healthy individuals without medical conditions that impair healing or increase risk of surgery
- Individuals with a positive outlook and realistic goals
- Individuals that are committed to leading a healthy lifestyle with proper nutrition and fitness
The procedures necessary to achieve your goals will be defined along with a plan for the timing of these procedures. Plastic surgery procedures that may be recommended by your physician include:
- Lower body lift: to correct sagging of the abdomen, buttocks, groin and outer thighs
- Breast lift: to correct sagging, flattened breasts
- Arm lift: to correct sagging of the upper arms
- Thigh lift: to correct sagging of the inner, outer and mid thigh
Step 1 – Anesthesia
Medications are administered for your comfort during the surgical procedures. The choices include intravenous sedation and general anesthesia. Your doctor will recommend the best choice for you.
Step 2 – The incision
All body contouring procedures require large incisions to remove excess skin. In many cases, these incisions may be extensive. Incision length and pattern depend on the amount and location of excess skin to be removed, as well as personal preference and your doctor’s surgical judgment. Advanced techniques usually allow incisions to be placed in strategic locations where they can be hidden by most types of clothing, but this is not always the case.
Body contouring is often performed in stages. Your particular condition and goals, as well as your plastic surgeon’s best judgment, will all influence how your doctor defines a surgical plan. While it may have taken you two years or more to lose all the excess weight, it may take equally as long for the results of your body contouring to be complete.
A complete lower body lift treats sagging buttocks, abdomen, waist, hips and outer thighs in one procedure. Incision patterns vary, and may include a circumferential incision around the body to remove the “belt” of excess skin and fat.
The incision patterns for lifting a woman’s sagging breasts will be determined based on the amount of excess skin to be removed. These may include one or a combination of incisions in a circular pattern around the areola, in a line extending from the areola to the breast crease, and horizontally along the breast crease. A breast implant also may be recommended to enhance breast shape and size.
Sagging skin in the upper arms is treated with an incision from the underarm area extending along the inside or back of the upper arm. Additional incisions on the arms may be necessary anywhere excess skin has formed sagging pockets. The smoother, tighter contours that result from upper arm contouring are apparent almost immediately, although initially obscured by swelling and bruising. The ultimate scar will be more obvious when the arms are raised.
Reshaping of the thighs is achieved through incisions in the groin that can extend downward to the knee along the inner portion of the thigh. Improving contours of the outer thigh may require an incision extending from the groin around the hip. Through these incisions your plastic surgeon will tighten tissues for a smoother, thigh.