Surgery After Weight Loss

Surgery After Bariatric Surgery (stomach stapling)

Weight Loss and Bariatric Surgery

Many people who are overweight will try anything to lose weight and get back into shape. A small percentage of them are able to accomplish their goals through diet and exercise. An even larger percent of them, however, find that their weight interferes with exercise and confounds the problem. They find themselves in a "catch 22" - they can't exercise because of their weight and they can't lose weight because they can't exercise. One popular solution for people caught in this situation is to have bariatric surgery. This surgery modifies the stomach and intestines so that weight loss is feasible. Bariatric surgery has been very effective in producing significant weight loss for many people who feel they have no other option.

Whether a person loses weight through diet and exercise or through bariatric surgery, there are a few obstacles that arise BECAUSE of the weight loss. One of the most noticeable would be the loose skin that remains after the weight is gone. To understand why loose skin is an after-effect of weight loss, here's an explanation: when someone is overweight, the skin stretches to accommodate the increased volume of weight. After weight loss, the skin often fails to tighten, and so it sags. In many cases, it hangs. It acts as a constant reminder of the weight you once were. Further diet and exercise WILL NOT tighten skin (exercise never tightens skin - only muscles). The only way to tighten loose skin is through surgery.

If the problem is... Then the solution is...
Loose abdominal skin Tummy Tuck
Loose arm skin Arm Lift (brachioplasty)
Loose breast skin Breast Lift (mastopexy)
Loose inner thigh skin Inner thigh lift
Loose thigh and buttock skin Outer thigh and buttock lift

Most people who accomplish significant (100 pounds or more) weight loss often need or want to have all of these operations.

A body lift, by the way, is the combination of tummy tuck, inner thigh lift, and outer thigh/buttock lift (explained below).

Is Liposuction an Option?

Not if your problem is due to loose skin. The only time liposuction is a better choice is when there is a lot of fat and the skin is tight.

Incisions and Scars

As with any surgery, scars will be present. The more skin that is removed, the more extensive are the scars. For a body lift, they will extend from along the lower abdomen, around the hips, and toward the buttock crease. There is another scar in each groin crease due to the inner thigh lift. One way to look at it is that this operation exchanges one cosmetic problem (loose skin) for another (scars). In general, those with very loose saggy skin following significant weight loss are likely to find this exchange worthwhile. Those with a small amount of looseness will probably not want the scars.

Body Lift: During and After Surgery

Anesthesia: General.

Location of operation:Hospital.

Length of surgery: 4-6 hours.

Length of stay: 1-4 nights.

Discomfort: Moderate. Anticipate 5-10 days of prescription pain medication.

Swelling: Improves over 2-6 weeks.

Bruising: Is not typical

Bandages: Will be removed in 1-7 days.

Stitches: Will be absorbable.

Back to work: 2-4 weeks.

Exercise: May be resumed in 4-6 weeks.

Final result: Will be seen after the scars have matured, which will be about six months.

Tips and Traps of Body Lift

  • Realize that this is a large operation that involves the exchange of one cosmetic problem (loose skin) for another (scars). If you are unwilling to accept scars, you should not have this operation, as no surgeon can predict how the scars will heal on you.