Extra Skin after Weight Loss Surgery
Any time the skin is stretched by excess weight, extra or loose skin after subsequent weight loss is common. The degree and amount of excess skin depends on various factors:
- The more weight the patient loses after surgery the more likely they are to have excess skin. As the human body becomes obese, the skin is stretched, often beyond its elastic limit – that’s the cause of stretch marks. Once the elasticity of the skin is compromised, it will no longer be able to return to its former tightness.
- How quickly the weight is lost will also determine the amount of excess skin. The quicker the weight loss, the greater the likelihood for loose skin. Gastric bypass patients may find that they experience greater volumes of excess skin because of the dramatic weight loss in the first few months after surgery. The typical gastric banding patient, that will be losing about 1 to 2 pounds per week, will probably experience less hanging skin because the skin has time to heal.
- As we get older, the elasticity of our skin is reduced and naturally becomes less taught – weight loss or not. The older the patient, the greater the likelihood that there will be hanging skin.
- Genetics play a part too.
Considering the above, as well as the patient’s ability to heal, all we know is that it is a combination of factors that determines how much excess skin the patient will have.
What Can I do about Extra Skin?
While there is rarely a medical necessity for the removal of excess skin, many weight loss surgery patients opt to undergo a cosmetic surgical procedure called body contouring. This procedure consists of first removing most of the excess skin and second tightening the skin that remains. The procedure may include a breast lift, abdominal lift, buttocks or thigh lift or whole body lift. These procedures are generally considered cosmetic or aesthetic and are rarely covered by insurance.
While the aesthetic benefits can be immense, this is still a surgical procedure that comes with risk. We caution our patients to fully understand the risks and benefits of cosmetic surgery.
When Can I Undergo Body Contouring?
It is advised that body contouring only be performed when the patient has stabilized at their goal weight. If the patient were to lose more weight after body contouring the potential for more excess skin to develop is likely. Similarly, if the patient regains some of their weight, the elasticity of the newly contoured skin will be compromised and when they lose that weight, they will develop sagging skin.
If you are considering body contouring after surgery please contact our office to learn more.