Body Contouring After Weight Loss

With the growing popularity of gastric bypass surgery to treat obesity, we have seen a dramatic increase in patients seeking body contouring after this procedure. Likewise, patients who have lost weight through diet and exercise or following pregnancy may want to address excess, sagging skin that remains after they achieve their goal weight.

Our goal with post-weight loss body contouring surgery is to remove the extra skin in affected areas and leave scars which are as inconspicuous as possible. Following your body lifting procedures, you’ll have tighter, smoother skin that both looks and feels better in clothing.

What is a Body Lift? Sorting Out the Terminology

Body contouring procedures after weight loss are not the same for every patient. It may be best to think of “body lifting” as an umbrella name for a collection of other plastic surgery procedures that lift and tighten specific areas of the body. For some, a tummy tuck alone achieves the desired improvements, while for others a tummy tuck, thigh lift, and buttock lift all are needed.

However, as often happens when procedures are grouped together, surgeons give them another name. Below we have tried to clarify the terminology for you:

Post Weight Loss Surgery vs. Post-Bariatric Surgery

Post weight loss surgery refers to any plastic surgery procedure or procedures performed to address excess skin and sagging tissues after massive weight loss. Since many patients have had bariatric surgery to lose the weight, it is also called post-bariatric surgery. However, the same procedures can be used for patients who lost that weight through diet and exercise. Some need a lower body lift; others only need a single procedure, such as a tummy tuck. Other names for post weight loss surgery include: post-bariatric body lifting and post-weight loss body contouring.

Body Lift vs. Lower Body Lift

When surgeons refer to a body lift, they are typically referring to a tummy tuck, outer thigh lift, and buttock lift performed in a single operation. A lower body lift is the same thing. Other names for a body lift include circumferential body lift and belt lipectomy. This procedure set is what we most commonly associate with “post-weight loss surgery,” and the two are sometimes used interchangeably, though in reality post-weight loss surgery may or may not include a “body lift.”

Options for Body Contouring After Weight Loss

No two patients have the same goals or needs with body lifting surgery. At your consultation, Dr. Parker will listen closely to understand what you hope to achieve, evaluate your areas of concern, and explain your options to make your desired changes.

Why liposuction usually is not an option

While Dr. Parker may use it to enhance the results of a body lifting procedure, liposuction alone will rarely achieve the desired results. Liposuction reduces unwanted fat only, and for post-weight loss patients, excess skin, not fat is usually the main problem. In fact, for a patient with poor skin elasticity, liposuction without surgery to remove the excess skin may worsen the sagging appearance.

Tummy Tuck Alone

If the excess skin remaining after weight loss is mainly concentrated around the abdomen, a tummy tuck alone can provide excellent results. During this procedure, Dr. Parker tightens lax, protruding abdominal muscles and reduces the excess skin for a firmer, flatter midsection. For many patients, he will combine a tummy tuck with liposuction, called lipoabdominoplasty, to sculpt a more natural, slim contour to the entire belly and hips.

Before & After Tummy Tuck Following Weight Loss*

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    before                                                  after

This 38 year old patient had lost 50 pounds through diet, exercise, and treatment of a thyroid condition. Dr. Parker performed lipoabdominoplasty, along with liposuction of the hips, to address the excess skin and muscle laxity and sculpt a nice contour to her abdomen. She is very excited about her improved appearance after surgery.

Outer Thigh & Buttock Lift

Weight loss affects each patient differently, and for some excess skin gathers around the thighs and buttocks, causing a wrinkled, aged appearance. By performing a lateral (outer) thigh and buttock lift, Dr. Parker can remove the excess, sagging skin and tighten the remaining skin to restore a smooth, firm appearance. If the buttocks have also lost definition, Dr. Parker can perform auto-augmentation, or fat injections to the buttocks, to create a rounder, more aesthetically pleasing contour.

Outer Thigh & Buttock Lift Following Weight Loss*

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    before                                                  after

This 41 year old patient, who lost 55 pounds through diet and exercise, was bothered by sagging skin in her outer thighs and buttocks. Dr. Parker performed a lateral thigh and buttock lift to address these issues, and the patient now feels much better about her appearance.

Inner Thigh Lift

For many patients, significant weight loss results in an excess of skin that gathers on the inner thighs. Through an incision hidden in the groin, Dr. Parker can perform an inner thigh lift, removing the excess, sagging skin and creating a smoother, slimmer contour to the area.

Inner Thigh Lift Following Weight Loss*

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    before                                                  after

This 47 year old patient had gradually lost 115 pounds through diet and exercise, and requested improvement in the appearance of her inner thighs. Dr. Parker performed an inner thigh lift to remove the excess skin. The patient loves the improved contour and appearance of her thighs.

Lower Body Lift After Weight Loss

Many patients who lose a lot of weight, either through post-bariatric surgery or diet and exercise, are left with significant amounts of excess skin around the torso and thighs. Abdominal muscles may have become lax and protruding. A lower body lift combines a tummy tuck and outer thigh & buttock lift together to reduce excess skin, tighten abdominal muscles, and restore a smoother, more natural body contour. The most extensive of all post-weight loss procedures, a lower body lift can achieve the most dramatic results.

Lower Body Lift Following Weight Loss*

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    before                                                  after

This 33 year old patient had lost 140 pounds following bariatric surgery, and wanted to address the excess of sagging skin around her torso. Dr. Parker performed an abdominoplasty and lateral thigh lift & buttock lift, or lower body lift. The patient is very happy with her smoother torso.

Are You Ready for Body Lift Surgery?

For your safety and to ensure the best possible results, it’s important that you are at a stable weight before undergoing plastic surgery after weight loss. Typically, Dr. Parker recommends waiting until one year after bypass surgery or when weight loss has plateaued for 3 to 6 months.

About Your Surgery at the Parker Center

Dr. Parker performs body lifting surgery in our fully accredited surgical facility. Your surgery will be performed under general anesthesia, administered by our board certified MD anesthesiologist. Time in surgery depends on the exact procedures you are having. Patients who are having more extensive procedures typically stay overnight in our recovery suite, where our experienced surgical and nursing staff can monitor the initial recovery.

Body lifting procedures can be extensive cosmetic surgeries and typically require a more lengthy recovery, particularly if you are having a tummy tuck or other procedure that involves muscular repair. Dr. Parker will explain the details of recovery for each procedure you are considering, so you can decide what’s best for you.

Our Signature Rapid Recovery Program

Most of our patients lead active lives and are anxious to return to their daily routine as soon as possible after surgery. With that in mind, we have developed our unique Rapid Recovery program. This involves surgical techniques, anesthesia, and pain medications as well as post-operative massages and skincare that are specially tailored to ensure your recovery is as quick and comfortable as possible.

Our “pain management protocol,” a key part of our Rapid Recovery program, is quite helpful in minimizing pain. Patients begin walking the day after surgery and many can resume normal activities within seven to ten days. Depending on the body lifting procedures performed, light exercise can often begin at two weeks and return to full exercise at six weeks. During both your consultation with Dr. Parker and in your pre-op education visit with our Nurse Educator, your anticipated recovery will be discussed in detail.