The obesity epidemic is alive and well in this country. Thankfully, many patients are taking control of their health by undergoing massive weight loss either on their own or, more commonly, through bariatric surgery. The result is a healthier, leaner you. Unfortunately, when a patient loses 50 lbs. or more, he or she is going to be left with some degree of excess skin. In some cases, this extra skin can almost feel like a whole another person.
It can be debilitating for patients who have worked so hard to take off the weight to look in the mirror and still not see their ideal reflection. Dr. Richard Zienowicz of Providence, RI is a board certified plastic surgeon who has extensive experience in body contouring for massive weight loss patients. He discusses why it’s important to choose an experienced cosmetic surgeon to help deliver the final piece of your weight loss journey.
Why is Massive Weight Loss Important?
Nobody likes to be overweight. It adversely affects your health, your self-esteem and your ability to wear the clothes that you’d like. The unfortunate truth is losing weight is hard, and especially if you have a lot of weight to lose. Procedures such as bariatric surgery can be life altering for so many patients.
The second hard truth is losing the weight doesn’t mean the body of your dreams will be delivered with it. All massive weight loss patients are going to be left with varying degrees of excess skin. For some patients, this skin may weigh 20 lbs or more. Besides being cumbersome and unsightly when naked, this skin often makes a patient feel as if their weight loss journey is incomplete. Having it removed helps them to realize their dream which helps them to keep the weight off permanently.
Post Massive Weight Loss Surgery = Cosmetic Surgery
“Surgery after massive weight loss is cosmetic surgery” explains Dr. Zienowicz. There is a different order of magnitude in terms of the amount of extra skin and fat that needs to be removed with massive weight loss patients versus the average body contouring patient. It therefore takes, “a real three dimensional perspective to see the final picture, and to design an operation that will execute that and really make it happen.” A plastic surgeon is trained to excavate beauty and proportion like a sculptor.
There are so many people who “are capable of just cutting and sewing”, says Dr. Zienowicz. But a plastic surgeon has the skill, expertise and training to put all the different body pieces together so that the end result is both close to your normal anatomy and, more importantly, to the final picture in your head of what you’d like your body to look like.
Surgery After Massive Weight Loss is a Staged Procedure
Dr. Zienowicz understands that losing any amount of weight is always an emotional journey. “When somebody comes into my office after massive weight loss, there is no question that they are looking to get something back that they haven’t had in many years, if ever,” he explains.
Surgery after massive weight loss, “is a staged reconstruction of your body,” explains Dr. Zienowicz. Most patients come in with a wish list. “What we try to do is answer that wish list as closely as possible, but in a safe fashion.” This entails bunching the procedures together in stages according to the needs of the patient. Since massive weight loss affects every area of the face and body, many areas may come into play. Moving top to bottom, these might include:
Massive Weight Loss Surgery is Individualized
Since no two patients are alike, no two surgeries after massive weight loss will be alike. The number of areas that will need to be addressed are going to depend on how much weight you’ve lost, your age, your body type and your needs. For one patient, this may mean starting with breasts and tummy. For another, it may mean starting with the arms and thighs.
Plastic Surgeon Delivers Best Scars
The upside of surgery after massive weight loss is the body of your dreams. The downside? Scars. There is no way to remove excess skin without scars. However, a highly trained and experienced plastic surgeon knows how to deliver exemplary looking scars. He or she is in the business of making patients look beautiful; this requires a lot of attention to detail and technical prowess, the main requirements in achieving the best scarring.
“Some of the most loyal patients in my practice are those that I’ve done massive weight loss surgery on,” says Dr. Zienowicz. They’ve regained their sense of self and reintegrated with society because most of them were really uncomfortable being out in public. Many of his patients are professionals who are now able to dress the way that they’ve always wanted. “It’s really been life changing so it’s extremely satisfying”.