Significant weight loss related to diet, bariatric surgery or postpregnancy changes often leaves loose skin behind. Body contouring procedures can help fine-tune your new body shape.
Body Contouring: What You Need to Know
Body contouring, or body sculpting, refers to surgical procedures that improve the appearance of skin and tissue after major weight loss.
Body contouring surgeries can include panniculectomy (removal of excess skin in the lower abdominal region), abdominoplasty (tummy tuck), liposuction and excisional body lifts, such as a lower body lift, arm lift (brachioplasty), inner thigh lift or buttock augmentation.
A breast lift or breast augmentation can help restore breast shape or remove excess fat and sagging skin after pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Types of Body Contouring
Liposuction is the most popular cosmetic procedure performed in the United States. In fact, the number of liposuction patients has increased 264 percent since 1992. An ideal candidate for liposuction has a stable weight and localized fatty deposits that will not disappear with diet and exercise. While liposuction typically requires general anesthesia, it can be performed as an outpatient surgery.
The following liposuction procedures may be used alone or in combination:
Body Contouring Surgery
Body contouring surgery is often necessary to achieve the desired contour after massive weight loss. Lifts are necessary when there is excess skin or areas where liposuction results would be insufficient. In many cases, some of the procedures can be combined. Your surgeon will perform an in-depth analysis of your body habitus and lifestyle before recommending a specific surgical technique.
Excisional skin surgery lifts include:
Abdominoplasty (tummy tuck)
Breast rejuvenation (including breast lift, reduction or augmentation) to restore breast contour and shape
Brachioplasty (arm lift)
Circumferential body lift (belt procedure)
Inner thigh lift
Recovery after Body Contouring
General anesthesia and at least one overnight stay are often required for body contouring procedures. The primary risks of surgery include wound healing difficulties, asymmetry and persistent contour deformities.
After surgery, you may need to use surgical drains to remove excess fluid or blood that may collect at the surgical site. Your doctor will explain how to use and care for your drain. Your doctor may also require that you wear a compression garment for six to eight weeks.
Initial discomfort may last up to four weeks while a full recovery may take several months. The extent of your scars will vary depending on your procedure. For example, body contouring surgery will result in greater scars than liposuction.
Results for body contouring procedures vary according to the individual. Revision surgery may be necessary to address complications or achieve desired results.