Body Contouring After Weight Loss
It is very common for people to feel frustrated with loose, sagging skin that does not "bounce back" after pregnancy or shedding a significant amount of weight. Getting plastic surgery after weight loss at St. Louis Cosmetic Surgery is an excellent solution for men and women who want to recontour areas of excess skin and fat on the arms, legs, face, abdomen, or breasts.
Our board-certified plastic surgeons use a variety of procedures and techniques to sculpt smooth, shapely body contours with minimal downtime. Request a consultationRequest a consultation online or call (636) 530-6161 to discuss your options in St. Louis for plastic surgery after weight loss.
This 36-year-old woman is shown before and after undergoing combined procedures that included a lower transverse body lift, full abdominoplasty, and liposuction of the abdomen and inner and outer thighs.
Browse our gallery of before-and-after photos showing the results our surgeons produce. It's helpful to find patients with similar aesthetic concerns.
Your Body Contouring Options
Your surgeon creates a comprehensive surgical plan addressing your specific concerns based on the conversation you have during the consultation. Combining different procedures during a single operation is common. Patient safety is our top priority, however, and your surgeon may recommend staging the procedures in separate operations performed several weeks apart.
The primary goal of all body contouring surgery after major weight loss is removing sagging skin and fat while improving the shape of the underlying tissue. The body contouring options that your surgeon may include as part of your surgical plan include:
- Tummy Tuck: A tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) removes the excess skin draped over the waist after weight loss and tightens weakened abdominal muscles. A tummy tuck is sometimes combined with a thigh and buttock lift for more comprehensive results as part of a procedure called a "transverse body lift."
- Thigh or Buttock Lift: These are common procedures for anyone who recently lost a significant amount of weight. Your surgeon can customize these procedures based on the degree of sagging. In some cases, a thigh lift is performed using only a short incision made on the inside of the thigh.
- Arm Lift: Removing the excess skin from the upper arms is a common request from our post-weight loss patients. An arm lift (brachioplasty) helps firm and tone the upper arms.
- Breast Lift: Breast skin stretched by excessive weight gain loses its elasticity and sags after significant weight loss. A breast lift can restore the breasts' shape and contour.
- Facelift: Patients concerned about jowls and sagging neck skin can undergo a facelift in addition to body contouring surgery.
Liposuction is also commonly used in conjunction with each of these procedures to remove localized pockets of fat that remain after weight loss.
We're delighted to offer Vectra 3D Imaging, which we use to create visual simulations of the various options available. Together, we'll evaluate every angle to find a look that makes you smile.
Good Candidates for Post-Weight Loss Body Contouring
When should you consider plastic surgery after massive weight loss? It's important that your weight is stable and that you've established healthy eating habits before undergoing body contouring surgery. Whether you lost weight by having bariatric surgery or through lifestyle changes, the characteristics of a good candidate for post-weight loss body contouring include:
- Maintaining a stable weight for at least 6 months with no intention of losing additional weight
- Being in good overall health with no underlying medical conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease
- Have been cleared for plastic surgery by a primary care physician
- Eating a well-rounded, healthy diet that includes adequate protein
- Being a nonsmoker
- Being prepared mentally to undergo more than one surgery and take the time needed to recover
- Having realistic expectations about the results
Most patients considering body contouring surgery after weight loss have already demonstrated the commitment and mental stamina necessary to be a promising candidate for the procedures by taking the steps needed to lose weight. Our surgeons encourage you to discuss any concerns you may have about being a good candidate for surgery.
Recovery following these body contouring procedures varies from patient to patient and depends on the nature of the operation, especially if your surgeon combined different procedures. It's critical to follow the postoperative instructions your surgeon provides.
Surgery is performed using general anesthesia, and in some cases patients spend one or more nights in the hospital before returning home. You will have bandages at the incision sites and likely surgical drains to help reduce fluid buildup. Although the recovery time is different for each patient, most individuals beginning feeling more comfortable after the first week or 2.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will health insurance pay for the surgery?
Health insurance companies typically don't pay for any procedures they deem to be "cosmetic," even after undergoing massive weight loss. There are some exceptions. For example, patients with a large apron of skin that causes a persistent rash despite using prescription creams may qualify for insurance coverage to remove the excess skin. Insurers also may cover breast reduction if patients have back pain or severe rashes because of overly large, heavy breasts. We work with you to help obtain coverage when possible and offer financing plans to help manage your payments.
Is it safe to combine procedures?
Your safety is our No. 1 priority. When your surgeon creates a surgical plan, he takes into account your age, medical history, and current overall health. Most patients can safely undergo an operation that combines certain procedures, such as a tummy tuck, thigh lift, and buttock lift, but some post-weight loss surgery candidates may need multiple operations. For example, your surgeon may address your lower body during the first stage and perform a breast lift or reduction and arm lift as the second stage of your body contouring surgery. This is all decided as part of your surgical plan, with your health and safety as the deciding factor.
Are the results permanent?
If you maintain a fairly steady weight with no major fluctuations, the results of body contouring surgery can last indefinitely. The aging process continues, but by practicing healthy lifestyle and skin care habits, you can expect to enjoy your results for many years.
Do I need to reach a certain weight before having surgery?
There is no "ideal weight" that someone must be to have body contouring surgery. Our surgeons recommend reaching a weight at which you feel comfortable and maintaining that weight, because any major changes may affect your results.
What is the most important thing to do to prepare for surgery?
If you are a smoker, stop smoking. Smoking compromises the body's immune system and makes it much more likely that a patient will encounter complications following surgery. Smoking also makes it harder to heal and affects skin condition.