What is body contouring?
Dramatic weight loss has many benefits. But after any substantial amount of weight loss due to weight loss surgery and/or lifestyle changes, 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 skin and fat while improving the shape of the underlying support tissue. The result is a better-proportioned appearance with smoother contours.
Body contouring procedures may include
Arm lift: correct sagging of the upper arms
Breast lift: correct sagging, flattened breasts
Facelift: correct sagging of the mid-face, jowls and neck
Lower body lifts: correct sagging of the abdomen, buttocks, inner and outer thighs
Medial thigh lift: correct sagging of the inner thigh
Tummy tuck: correct apron of excess skin hanging over the abdomen
Who is a good candidate for body contouring?
In general, good body contouring candidates 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
What are the risks of body contouring?
The decision to have plastic surgery is extremely personal, and you will have to decide if the benefits will achieve your goals and if the risks and potential complications of body contouring surgery are acceptable.
You will be asked to sign consent forms to ensure that you fully understand the procedure and any risks and potential complications.Body contouring risks include:
Blood clots, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism
Excessive or widened scars
Numbness or other changes in skin sensation
Poor wound healing
Residual skin laxity or contour irregularity
These risks and others will be fully discussed prior to your consent. It is important that you address all your questions directly with your plastic surgeon.
How should I prepare for body contouring?
In preparing for body contouring surgery, you may be asked to:
Get cleared for surgery by your bariatric surgeon and/or primary care doctor
Get a lab test
Take certain medications or adjust your current medications
Stop smoking well in advance of surgery
Avoid taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements or other medications that may increase bleeding
Body contouring surgery should be performed in an accredited office-based surgical facility, a licensed ambulatory surgical center or a hospital. If your body contouring is performed on an outpatient basis, be sure to arrange for someone to drive you to and from surgery and to stay with you for at least the first night following surgery.
What should I expect during my body contouring recovery?
During your recovery from body contouring surgery, dressings or bandages will be applied to your incisions following the procedure.
Small, thin tubes may be temporarily placed under the skin to drain any excess blood or fluid that may collect.
You will be given specific instructions that may include:
How to care for the surgical site(s).
Medications to apply or take orally to aid healing.
Specific concerns to look for at the surgical site or in your general health.
When to follow up with your plastic surgeon.
Be sure to ask your body contouring surgeon specific questions about what you can expect during your individual recovery period:
Where will I be taken after my surgery is complete?
What medication will I be given or prescribed after surgery?
Will I have dressings/bandages after surgery? When will they be removed?
Are stitched removed? When?
When can I resume normal activity and exercise?
When do I return for follow-up care?
Body contouring recovery at home
You may be instructed to avoid bending, straining or lifting for several days to weeks.
Where tightening of the abdomen or thighs is involved, your plastic surgeon may also instruct you to avoid standing fully upright and stressing any internal sutures as they heal, and to sleep with pillows elevating your knees.
To minimize the risk of DVT (blood clots in the legs) you will need to be up and walking as soon as possible, and drinking plenty of fluid.
What results should I expect after body contouring?
The results of body contouring following significant weight loss are visible almost immediately; however, it can take two years or more to see the final results.
Visible scars are something you must accept to achieve a body contour that matches your new weight and proportion.
The results of body contouring are generally long-lasting, provided that you maintain a stable weight and general fitness. As your body ages, it is natural to lose some firmness. However, most of your initial improvement should remain.
Although good results are expected from your procedure, there is no guarantee. In some situations, it may not be possible to achieve optimal results with a single surgical procedure and another surgery may be necessary.
Following your physician's instructions is critical to the success of your surgery.
It is important that the surgical incisions are not subjected to excessive force, motion, swelling or abrasion during the time of healing. Your doctor will give you specific instructions on how to care for yourself.
This article was taken from AMERICAN SOCIETY OF PLASTIC SURGEONS web page: