Overview of Bariatric Plastic Surgery
Bariatric plastic surgery can help an individual achieve the best possible body shape by removing loose skin, tightening loose muscles, and removing excess residual fat from the body that may remain after significant weight loss with weight loss surgery.
Cosmetic plastic surgery procedures such as the tummy tuck, lower body lift, breast reduction/lift, and liposuction can help successful bariatric patients improve their overall appearance and comfort.
After Rapid Weight Loss
After weight loss surgery, bariatric patients usually lose a substantial amount of weight in a relatively short amount of time. With rapid weight loss, however, the skin does not always shrink so well.
Post-bariatric patients are typically left with loose hanging skin about the abdomen, back, thighs, and other parts of the body, as well as loose muscles and small areas of unsightly fat tissue.
Improve Appearance and Comfort
Cosmetic plastic surgery that is performed to remove excess skin after weight loss not only improves appearance but also helps make an individual more comfortable. Loose drooping skin, especially around the abdomen, can be uncomfortable and bothersome. Any type of physical activity, even sitting and standing, can cause annoying skin movements. Many patients are not able to find clothing that feels comfortable or fits properly. Also, it may be difficult to keep the skin clean under the large folds of skin around the abdomen, leading to skin irritation, skin rashes, pain and infection.
Time Frame for Cosmetic Procedure
Bariatric patients interested in having excess skin or extra fat deposits removed after weight loss surgery, should wait until weight loss is finished and stabilized, and then allowing enough time for the skin and tissue to improve and stabilize as much as possible naturally.
It can take anywhere from six to eighteen months for adequate skin and tissue stabilization, depending on many factors ranging from age to amount of weight loss. Before undergoing a cosmetic procedure, for your health and assurance, it is a good idea to ask your doctor for advice and medical approval.
Cosmetic plastic surgery, just like weight loss surgery, is not always an easy option. Any surgical procedure involves some degree of risk and trade-off of benefits. Cosmetic plastic surgery often involves exchanging one cosmetic problem (loose skin) for another (scars).
Cosmetic Plastic Surgery and Body Contouring Procedures
The following information will help you learn more about some of the more popular cosmetic procedures for post-bariatric patients.
Arm Lift (Brachioplasty): Surgery to remove excess hanging skin from the upper arm between the elbow and shoulder. Incision/scar is along the underside of the upper arm.
Body Lift (Torsoplasty): A Mid Body Lift is surgery to remove and lift sagging skin around the buttocks, thighs, hips, and abdomen. Combines a lower body lift (buttocks, thighs, and hips) and tummy tuck into a single procedure for outstanding overall results. Incision/scar extends around the entire body. A Total Body Lift includes the arms, back and breasts.
Breast Lift (Mastopexy) and Breast Augmentation (Augmentation mammaplasty): Surgery and body contouring procedure to lift a sagging breast and enhance natural breast volume. Breast size is often reduced with weight loss since they are mainly composed of fatty tissue.
Breast Reduction in Men (Gynecomastia): Surgery to remove loose chest skin and female-like breast contours in men. Incision lines/scars can be an issue.
Face Lift (Rhytidectomy) or Neck Lift (Platysmaplasty): A Face Lift is surgery to remove extra skin and tighten muscles of the neck and face. If surgery is performed under the jaw line and in the neck area only, it is known as a Neck Lift.
Liposuction (Lipoplasty): Cosmetic procedure used to remove small amounts of fatty tissue from the hips, thighs, buttocks, and abdomen to sculpt a more desireable body shape. It is often combined with body lift surgery. Liposuction is not for weight loss, but for sculpting the body's shape and contour.
Panniculectomy: Surgery to remove the excess skin and fat that hangs from the stomach after weight loss. Unlike abdominoplasty (tummy tuck), panniculectomy does involve tightening the abdominal muscles. May be covered by health insurance (but do not call it a tummy tuck).
Tummy-Tuck (Abdominoplasty): Surgery to remove excess skin and fat from the middle and lower abdomen and tighten muscles in the abdominal wall. Effect is to create a more slender waistline and flatter stomach. The incision/scar goes from hip to hip and around the belly button.
Choosing a Plastic Surgeon
When choosing a surgeon, look for a doctor that is board-certified in plastic surgery by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS). While any doctor is legally allowed to perform cosmetic plastic surgery, even if he or she does not have any surgical training, only a doctor who is board-certified in plastic surgery has completed the specialty training.
- The doctor you choose for post-bariatric body contouring surgery should have the appropriate training and experience in working with post-bariatric patients to ensure a successful outcome.
- It is important to check credentials and select a plastic surgeon who is Board-Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and also has specific skills in post-bariatric plastic surgery.
Select the best board-certified plastic surgeon you can find and not the doctor offering the lowest rate. While you may pay more for a skilled, experienced, and specialty trained plastic surgeon, it reduces the chance of complications, lessens the need for revisions, and increases the level of safety.
Also, it is important to make sure the medical facility is an accredited hospital, surgery center, or plastic surgery office. Accredited medical facilities have been screened to ensure acceptable levels of patient care and safety. It is not worth sacrificing your safety by cutting costs and being treated at a non-accredited medical facility or choosing a surgeon that is not board-certified in plastic surgery.
Cost of Plastic Surgery
The cost of bariatric plastic surgery depends on many factors, such as the surgeon's fee, anesthesiologist's fee, hospital fees, and type of procedure.
One of the primary costs is the surgeon's fee, which will vary from doctor to doctor based on skill, experience and geographical region.
Other factors that affect the overall cost of plastic surgery are a patient's condition, complications, revisions (follow-up procedures), compression garments, and after surgery medication.
Health Insurance Coverage for Plastic Surgery
Health insurance companies may provide coverage for plastic surgery performed for medical reasons, but they do not usually provide coverage for plastic surgery procedures performed for cosmetic reasons. Depending on your procedure, it may or may not be covered by your health insurance.
One of the procedures most often covered by health insurance is abdominal panniculectomy. This procedure involves the surgical removal of excess skin and fat from the abdomen, without muscle tightening.