Massive weight loss patients endure a long, arduous journey from obesity to a normal weight. The quest requires both mental and physical discipline, but even after complete success, loose skin may very well remain. Stretched by the former weight, at a certain point the skin cannot stretch back. Now with nothing to fill it out, the loose skin hangs and stays as a reminder that once, you were massively over weight.
The only correction for loose skin is by removing it with surgery. There are numerous lifts out there – the facelift, neck lift, eyebrow lift, as well as one not many know about, the lower body lift. The secret to a successful massive weight loss may rest with this plastic surgery procedure not often talked about.
Hoorah! You’ve made your goal weight
Congratulations! You made the decision to lose all that weight and achieved it, either through will power and diet or through the rigors of bariatric surgery. The weight is gone, your life has turned around for the better, but… all that extra, loose skin. The crunches and treadmill do not seem to be working.
The final step for many massive weight loss patients is surgical removal of the skin. The more overweight a patient was, the more “extra skin” will need to be removed. The lower body lift is a plastic surgery procedure that works somewhat similar to a tummy tuck: skin is removed in certain regions then sutured together to recreate natural body contours.
“This operation is very effective for patients who have lost a lot of weight, either after weight loss surgery or just through natural dieting and exercise,” says Peter Rubin, MD, a board certified plastic surgeon experienced in the procedure. He adds patients can expect a very dramatic change with the lifting of the outer thighs and the buttock combined with a shaping of the tummy or the abdomen. “This combination procedure works very well to shape the whole lower body in one stage. Of course, it’s a bigger operation, the recovery is longer, and there’s always a bit more risk associated.”
Why Doesn’t Skin Disappear like Weight Does?
Many are surprised to know that the skin doesn’t always stretch back after losing lots of weight. Daniel Maman, MD, a New York City-based board certified plastic surgeon, gets asked this question all the time. “Patients will say they’ve lost a lot of weight, either from bariatric surgery or diet, and that they’ve been going to the gym rigorously, but no matter what they do, they still can’t get rid of that loose skin,” he explains. “It isn’t fair, but then, as they say, life isn’t fair all the time, either. That’s where body contouring surgery comes in.”
Where Loose Skin Tends to Occur
Surgeons generally know which areas will be the most problematic with loose skin, which will help design a unique lower body lift for patients. Board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Brian Brzowski of Utah performs lower body lift procedures often, experience he has utilized to help patients understand how the procedure will go based on their unique circumstance.
“The most common area patients will come into my office and complain about is their trunk,” Dr. Brzowski shares. “It’s actually a good thing because that’s the area where they typically will get the biggest bang for their buck. What we’re able to achieve is that nice, tight outer thigh, elevate and lift the buttock area, and we’ll actually see some tightening in the pubic area and inner thigh, too.”
The Biggest Benefit – Mental Health
The weight is gone, the skin is tight and contoured naturally, and the body is healthy. When these pieces come together, a massive weight loss patient has the opportunity to finalize the journey with a major boost to their mental health. The mental strength required to put those pieces together in the first place is nothing to take lightly, but finally taking a look in the mirror and seeing success is an extraordinarily positive experience for the mind.
“Once my patient has gone through weight loss and attained a look to restore their body image, the contouring allows them to see such a stunning result. They have a much stronger desire to KEEP the weight off,” says Brzowski. “The bottom line: we see a lot of success with the patients who opt for body contouring.”