Weight loss, following pregnancy, after diet and exercise, or after bariatric surgery, can cause significant body laxity, for which plastic surgical procedures may be indicated. Weight loss may affect the tone of various parts of the body, including the abdomen, breasts, arms, thighs, face and neck. Pregnancy, for example, stretches the skin and muscle of the tummy, and may result in persistent looseness of skin and muscle after pregnancy. In addition, the rise of bariatric surgery has resulted in many massive weight loss patients with substantial skin excess. Common procedures performed to address these areas include tummy tuck, breast lift and/or augmentation, arm lift, thigh lift, face/neck lift and liposuction.
Whether after pregnancy or weight loss, the abdomen is an area which is commonly affected. The abdomen is stretched, and skin excess and muscle laxity often result. A tummy tuck removes extra skin, and tightens muscle and skin, resulting in substantial improvement. A patient close to their ideal weight can achieve quite a flat abdomen following a tummy tuck. When there is also significant loose skin in the flank and outer thigh area, a lower body lift may be indicated. This procedure removes extra skin by extending the tummy tuck scar around the back, above the buttocks, and tightens the skin of the flanks, buttocks and outer thighs.
The breasts are also often affected. Pregnancy or weight loss can result in a deflated appearance of the breasts, with significant ptosis, or droopiness. A breast lift may be indicated for these patients. For those women seeking additional fullness of the breasts, breast implants may be indicated, with or without a breast lift.
The arms and thighs are areas which can also have skin laxity and excess following weight loss, such as the “bat wing” appearance of the arms. Arm lifts or thigh lifts remove extra hanging skin and tighten the remaining skin. Scar placement is designed depending on the degree of skin laxity, and as with all plastic surgery procedures, scars are hidden when possible.
Weight loss can also affect the face and neck, accentuating the jowls and loose skin of the neck. Face and neck lifts address this laxity, by tightening the skin as well as the underlying muscle.
Liposuction may also be indicated following weight loss, particularly when there are areas of disproportionate fat collections after weight loss. Common areas involved can include the outer thighs (“saddle bags”), inner thighs, abdomen, flanks (“love handles”), arms, knees, back, and neck. In my own practice, I have been using SmartLipo laser liposuction over the past several years, which removes fat, while getting better skin tightening than traditional liposuction.
Most of these procedures are performed as outpatient procedures. Often, more than one procedure can be performed during the same surgery. The Mommy Makeover, for example, can combine a tummy tuck with liposuction and breast surgery to address post-pregnancy body issues. Multiple procedures may also be staged, having them performed at different times. I discuss these issues with the patient at the time of consultation, and design a surgical plan to treat all of the patient’s areas of concern safely. For some patients, weight loss may be just the start to achieving a body with the best possible contour. If weight loss results in substantial skin excess and laxity, plastic surgical procedures may be indicated to make you look your very best.
Dr. Arnold Breitbart is a board-certified plastic surgeon, certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, and specializes in cosmetic surgery of the body, breast, and face. He has practices in both Manhasset and Manhattan. For more information, call Dr. Breitbart's offices at 516-365-3511.