Numerous television shows now exhibit the incredible transformations after massive weight loss. The media utilizes this story because it truly is powerful to witness, and hopefully inspiring for those looking to chart the same course. However, when the weight is finally gone, there are a few problems left to address.
Loose skin stretched beyond a certain point can never return to it’s previous state. Due to this, massive weight loss patients can arrive at their perfect weight and still be hampered by drapes of now unnecessary skin. The only way to address this issue is with certain plastic surgery procedures known as body contouring procedures. Board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Kristi Hustak of Houston discusses body contouring and why it’s necessary after massive weight loss.
Congratulations – The Weight is Gone!
It’s no small feat to burn off large amounts of body fat. In some cases, the lost mass can approach half of a person’s body weight. It takes determination, effort and a great deal of time to succeed.
Experts know how difficult it is to set a massive weight loss goal and then achieve it. “I congratulate them on this amazing feat and getting their life back – whether it’s through diet and exercise or bariatric surgery,” says Dr. Hustak.
Hustak goes on to explain that there is often a lot of work to be done after the weight is off. “The hard part is over and the fun part is getting to come to the plastic surgeon.” Hustak says body contouring procedures that deal with excess skin and/or fat can dramatically improve a person’s shape after the weight has been eliminated. It really is the final, completing step of the journey. “These procedures help make the person whole again,” Hustak explains.
Reducing What Diet and Exercise Cannot – Excess Skin
Dramatic weight loss is life changing and has enormous benefits, principally major improvements to health, but will more than likely leave behind sagging skin. “When you inflate and then deflate that skin, you have stretched it to the point of no return and then basically you have a skin suit,” details Hustak. She says the excess skin can be uncomfortable and cause irritation. “The patient may develop rashes and feel discomfort because its hard to roll up all of the skin and fit into clothes.”
The only answer to extreme amounts of loose skin is surgical removal. Depending on where the skin is and how much, this could be a staged procedure (the final result will be a composite of multiple procedures with recovery time spacing them out). Hustak says she will only tackle so many areas at one time, for safety and an efficient recovery. “Usually the first surgery is the tummy and performing what we call an extended abdominoplasty, or going all the way around is a 360 or lower body lift.”
Hustak says that procedure will eliminate excess skin on the tummy, flank and back. Often, women will want to add in a breast procedure. “We will at that time do a breast lift, maybe extending it to get that upper back roll.” Up next is the arms and inner thighs, followed by the facial area. “Lots of times there is a neck or facelift associated with these, even in young patients because they age in a much more rapid rate once they lose that weight.”
When Final Results are In, Maintenance is Key
When body contouring procedures are finished and results finalized, the long-game of maintenance begins. Dr. Hustak advises herpatients to plan well and consider a nutritional expert to help with diet and exercise for maintenance. “Nutritional counseling after surgery is so important because this is a huge investment in time and finances and you want to maintain this,” says Hustak.
Dr. Hustak suggests this not only after surgery, but before. She requires her patients to maintain a steady weight for six months before opting for transformative plastic surgery. “I want you to be six months stable weight before considering any procedures – and I like six months between procedures because that gives your body time to heal,” Hustak shares.
Hustak says a patient needs to be involved in planning which surgery should be a priority. “I can start with abs or go another direction depending on what the patient wants.” She says there is nothing more uplifting than seeing the embarrassment melt away for a patient who is transformed. “It’s a neat thing and one of the most rewarding surgeries that I do – body contouring after massive weight loss.”