Plastic Surgery after Significant Weight Loss
Excess or a loose skin after significant weight loss such as that experienced after bariatric surgery is a very real and important consideration for pre- and post-op patients. The degree to which excess skin will affect you varies based on a number of factors:
- The rate at which you lose weight. The faster you lose weight, the more likely you are to experience excess skin. Typically, gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy patients lose weight the fastest while gastric band or balloon patients lose it the slowest
- The total amount of weight you lose. The more weight you lose, the more likely it is that you will have excess skin
- Your genetics may determine how much excess skin you have. Those with more elasticity in their skin will be able to rebound better than those with less elastic skin
- Your age. Younger patients tend to have more elastic skin and will therefore experience less excess or loose skin than older patients
How you manage your excess skin is a very personal decision. Some patients wear their excess skin as a badge of honor and a reminder that they have lost an amazing amount of weight. Other patients wish to remove their excess skin as soon as possible after surgery. Again, this is a decision that only you can make with the advice of your medical team and trusted family or friends.
When is Cosmetic Surgery Appropriate?
If you do opt for a cosmetic procedure, we strongly caution that you do not undergo surgery before you are close to your target weight and have stabilized at your new normal. Re-gaining weight after plastic surgery can reverse the benefits of the cosmetic surgery. Also, remember that while many cosmetic procedures are considered routine, they still come with all the risks of any major surgical procedure. Because of the two reasons mentioned above, we suggest that patients wait about 18-24 months after bariatric surgery before considering a cosmetic procedure.
Costs of Cosmetic Surgery
From a financial standpoint, you should bear in mind that most surgeries to correct excess skin are considered cosmetic and are not covered by insurance. You’ll either need to show medical hardship due to the excess skin or pay out-of-pocket or finance the procedure. You may be tempted to go overseas for a cosmetic procedure due to cost considerations, but be mindful that quality care may be harder to come by and treating complications may be more difficult back home.
Downtime and Weight Gain
As a successful weight loss surgery patient, you will have followed a strict diet and exercise regimen for a while now. You may have concerns about downtime after surgery and the potential of regaining weight. Significant weight gain is unlikely however as you may not feel like eating much after surgery. Similarly, you will be encouraged to exercise soon after your cosmetic procedure, much in the same way as you did after your bariatric procedure.
We want to be sure that any cosmetic surgical procedure after your weight loss is as safe as possible. Therefore, we always suggest that you to discuss cosmetic surgery options with your surgeon during one of your follow up appointments.