Body Contouring

Body contouring after major weight loss improves the shape and tone of your underlying tissue that supports fat and skin and removes excess sagging fat and skin.

Following weight reduction surgery, or any substantial amount of weight loss, the skin and tissues often lack elasticity and cannot conform to the reduced body size. As a result, skin that has been severely stretched now is unsupported:

  • Upper arms may sag and appear loose and full
  • Breasts may flatten and hang with nipples pointed downward
  • Abdominal area may extend around the sides and into the lower back area, resulting in an apron-like overhang
  • Buttocks, groin and thighs can sag and cause hanging pockets of skin

Surgical body contouring following major weight loss improves the shape and tone of your underlying tissue that supports fat and skin, and removes excess sagging fat and skin.

The result is a more normal appearance to the body, with smoother contours. This is, in essence, the final phase of your total weight loss experience.

Is it right for me?

Before you decide to undergo body contouring following major weight loss, your weight loss must be stabilized.

  • If you continue to lose weight, sagging pockets will redevelop.
  • If you rapidly regain the weight, you will traumatically stress your already weakened and thinned skin, causing further stress to the skin, visible stretch marks and wide scars.

If you had weight reduction surgery, your plastic surgeon will work closely with your physician to determine when it is appropriate for you to begin body contouring.

Good candidates for body contouring are:

  • Adults of any age whose weight loss has stabilized
  • Healthy individuals who do not have medical conditions that can impair healing or increase risk of surgery
  • Non-smokers
  • Individuals with a positive outlook and realistic goals for what body contouring can accomplish
  • Individuals committed to leading a healthy lifestyle including proper nutrition and fitness

What is the procedure of body contouring surgery?

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 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.

Body Lift

A complete lower body lift treats sagging buttocks, abdomen, waist, hips and outer thighs in one procedure or in staged procedures. Incision patterns vary, and may include a circumferential incision around the body to remove the "belt" of excess skin and fat.

Breast Lift

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.

Arm Lift

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. In addition, skin quality is dramatically improved in both appearance and texture.

Thigh Lift

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, better toned thigh.

After the procedure

After your body contouring procedure is completed, dressings or bandages will be applied to the incisions. A small, thin tube may be temporarily placed under the skin to drain any excess blood or fluid that may collect.

The Results

The results of a body contouring following aggressive weight loss are visible almost immediately.

However, it may take as many as one to two years or more for the final results of all the recommended body contouring procedures to fully develop. Visible scars will remain, but the overall results are 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 be relatively permanent.

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