Q & A: Body Lift after Gastric Bypass

Q: I had a gastric bypass last year and for the first time in my life, I’m happy with my weight. What I’m not happy about is the amount of loose, saggy skin all over my body that I’m stuck with. At this point, it’s obvious that my skin is not going to bounce back. Is there anything a cosmetic surgeon can do to help me?
A: First of all, congratulations on your weight loss. From our experience with post-gastric bypass patients here at Southern Surgical Arts, we know how positively life-altering that surgery can be even when the outcome presents some challenges like the one you mentioned. The good news is that, yes, there is a lot we can do to help you love the look of your new body.

In your question, you identified the major issue causing the excess skin after your weight loss: your skin is not “bouncing back.” This loss of elasticity can be caused by aging as well as significant weight loss, and it’s a problem we commonly see with post-bypass and lap band patients. Many patients tell us that they are disappointed that even though they have lost a lot of weight, they still don’t look the way they want to due to the excess skin and sagging.

Although we can’t tell you definitively what we would recommend for you without a thorough personal consultation encompassing your age, general health, skin condition and smoking status, we commonly recommend a belt lipectomy, also known as a “body lift.” A body lift is generally performed on the lower torso, with surgery to trim and tighten skin at the waist, abdomen and hips, as well as on the upper legs and buttocks.

Because your weight loss has resulted in a major change in your physique, you may need a combination of 2-3 separate procedures to achieve your desired goals. For example, we may also recommend an arm lift to correct excessive loose skin on your arms. Additionally, to achieve a truly beautiful result, it may also be advisable to add some liposuction to create shapely, smooth contours.

Depending on the amount of skin that needs to be removed, you can expect to have some sizable scars. However, it is our goal at Southern Surgical Arts to place the incisions where they will be as unobtrusive as possible, and most of the scars will be completely invisible in clothing. The belt lipectomy incision is usually placed along the hips, just above the thighs. In cases where more correction is needed, an incision may also be made along the lower back or waist. The incision for the buttock lift is placed in the crease of the buttocks, where it will be virtually undetectable.

During the surgery, excess fat is removed as well as the excess skin. The skin is then tightened and sutured closed. The surgery will be performed under general anesthesia in our state-of-the-art surgical center. You can expect to spend 4-6 weeks recovering. While you recover, we recommend that you rest as much as possible and refrain from vigorous exercise until you are fully healed. You may wish to use cool packs to minimize swelling and bruising. Discomfort should be minimal and easily treated with over the counter pain relievers.

To be considered a candidate for a body lift, you must be:

Near your ideal body weight
Between the ages of 25-55
In good general health
A non-smoker
Both men and women are eligible for body lift procedures.

The body lift is an extensive procedure requiring a high level of surgical precision and artistry. It’s vital that you choose a skilled, board-certified cosmetic surgeon who has performed many body lifts. You have come a long way to achieve your “body beautiful,” and you want the best results possible. Your cosmetic surgeon should willingly share before-and- after photos of the body lifts he has performed so you can get an idea of his level of mastery with this procedure.

If you are interested in a body lift, please give us a call! Our board-certified, award-winning cosmetic surgeons, Dr. Carey Nease and Dr. Chad Deal, will be happy to discuss your options with you during a free personal consultation. To learn more, please call us at 423-266-3331.

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