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Body Contouring After Weight Loss Bluffton

An Article by Frederick G. Weniger, M.D., F.A.C.S.

Beauty has gotten stale. We are so inundated with images of “beauty” in our daily lives that I think my daughters will likely grow up thinking that there are only 2 kinds of women- hot brunettes and bodacious blonds. That’s about all they’ll see in movies and on TV. Accordingly, most stereotypes of plastic surgery seem to be of high-maintenance hotties looking for the finishing touches to perfect their body images. Although Botox, Juvederm, Liposuction, and Breast Augmentation are some of the most common treatments done to target specific improvements, there is another side of cosmetic plastic surgery that improves appearances so drastically that it truly changes lives. Body contouring after massive weight loss provides patients a way to actually restart their healthier, thin lives in new bodies.

Body Contouring After Massive Weight Loss is now the fastest-growing area in plastic surgery. Obesity has reached epidemic levels in this country, accounting for over 112,000 deaths per year. More than 60 million American adults are obese, and 9 million are severely obese (4.7% of adults). Fortunately, over the past decade, many affected patients have lost astounding amounts of weight with gastric bypasses and the Lap-Band (both of which are done laparoscopically), as well as through medical and traditional means of weight loss. In fact, it is quite common for bariatric (weight-loss) surgery patients to lose up to half of their pre-surgical body weight. Such patients experience tremendous health benefits from this weight loss, such as complete resolution of ailments like diabetes, high blood pressure, and arthritis symptoms. It is also common for these patients to have less anxiety and depression after weight loss and to have improvements in physical functioning, work capacity, social interaction, employment status, and general satisfaction with life.

Still, the medical triumph of massive weight loss is often undermined by patients’ perceptions of how they look after achieving their dramatically lower weights. Patients who expected to look like they did back before they originally gained weight find their bodies to be unrecognizable after massive weight loss. Instead of having bodies like their thin friends, such patients find in the mirror a distorted figure composed of loose, excess hanging skin which they have never before seen. In fact, it is not uncommon for such patients to state that they looked better BEFORE losing weight! These patients are often frustrated about accepting such an awful “reward” for all of their efforts and risks of weight loss.

Now that’s beautiful.

Frederick G. Weniger, M.D., F.A.C.S. is a Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon and Member of The American Society of Plastic Surgeons. His fellowship training at the University of Pittsburgh included study under Drs. Dennis Hurwitz and J. Peter Rubin, two internationally recognized fathers of body contouring surgery after massive weight loss.

In response, Board-Certified Plastic Surgeons have developed methods of treating such patients to return to them more normal body contours. These procedures generally involve removing and tightening excess skin in the way that your tailor would remove excess material from your pants suit if you lost several dress sizes. “Material” is “taken-in” in the arm, in the legs, under the chin, and in the breasts as well. Often, so much fullness has been lost in the breasts that a breast implants are added at the same time that a breast lift is performed. In addition to removing extra abdominal skin through a tummy-tuck, excess skin in the flank/love-handle areas and the back is usually removed at the same time in a procedure locally known as an “around-the-world”. This body-lift procedure also lifts and tightens the outer thighs removing the “saddle bags”. After massive weight loss, such procedures can be so effective in removing loose skin that patients’ contours can look TOO thin, and then the patient’s own fat can be ADDED to areas such as the buttocks or breasts in order to give a curvier shape.

Most weight loss patients have skin excess and contour deformities throughout their bodies, and they would therefore benefit from many if not most of these contouring procedures. Unfortunately, not all of these operations should be performed at one setting for safety reasons. Such an operation would be simply too long. Therefore patients must prioritize their goals and then group these procedures into 2 or 3 combined operations in order to complete the entire plan. In this way, most surgeries can be done as an outpatient or with only an overnight stay after each surgery.

Of all types of plastic surgery, body contouring after massive weight loss can be one of the most rewarding for both the patient and the surgeon. It is truly a tremendous experience to help a patient restart a healthy new life with a new shape she or he can be proud of. These operations really are “Extreme Makeovers” and life-changing events.

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