Plastic Surgery
Plastic Surgery for Body Image Problems after Weight Loss Surgery
Mar 11, 2014 - 4:45:28 PM

( - As the pounds come off, clothes become looser - but unfortunately so too does the skin. For obese men and women, bariatric surgery can be a solution to a weight problem they have struggled with their whole life. Seeing the number on the scale drop can be a great confidence booster, not to mention health benefit. The amount of joy they should be feeling, however, can be interrupted by the sagging skin beneath their now smaller size clothing.

In bariatric surgery, the stomach is reduced in size significantly. A portion of the small intestine is also re-routed to limit the amount of food that can be consumed. Most studies have found this surgery to be successful for the majority of patients. More often than not, the patients' quality of life is shown to increase dramatically.

More recently, Karen Synne Groven, a student at the University of Oslo in Norway, conducted research for her doctoral thesis that has shed some light on the true effects of bariatric gastric bypass surgery. Reported by Science Daily, her findings were based on interviews with 22 women between the ages of 24 and 54 who had undergone the procedure. She concluded that weight loss surgery is neither a complete success nor failure because where one problem - in this case excess weight - is improved, others may arise.

"How women experience these problems vary significantly," Synne Groven says. While increased self-esteem, growth of societal acceptance, and success at work are positive effects that many women can benefit from, underneath their clothing many may feel self-conscious about their new body. Although smaller, it often is left with loose skin from the rapid weight loss.

Prior to weight loss surgery, few people think about what their bodies will really look like. They envision a slimmer figure with toned skin and perhaps even some muscle definition. In reality, excess skin that was once filled with voluminous fat sags around the abdomen, arms, and thighs. Living with this new appearance can be difficult to come to terms with.

Plastic Surgery After Weight Loss

Where there is a problem, there is always a solution. For this particular dilemma, plastic surgery is that solution. Women and men who experience sagging skin due to bariatric surgery, extreme weight loss through diet and exercise, and even pregnancy, can complete their goals for a more healthy looking and attractive body with cosmetic procedures.

The field of plastic surgery for massive weight loss patients has grown substantially as the demand for gastric bypass surgery has increased. Patients falling into this category require unique attention to contouring of the body. The following are the most common procedures performed for this purpose:

Thigh Lift - An inner thigh lift can do a great deal of good in boosting a person's confidence and level of comfort when excess fat and skin are a problem in this area of the body. For weight loss patients it will help contribute to the image that they are healthy, and can be more comfortable when walking and exercising. An L- or T-shaped incision will run from the upper portion of the inner thigh to the knee or horizontally along the upper inner thigh in the 2- to 4-hour procedure. Expect a recovery time of about 2 weeks.

Liposuction - Patients will be back on their feet 1 week after liposuction. This common procedure helps to smooth out areas of the body where stubborn fat may be lingering, even after weight loss surgery. It can also help to make the contours of the body more proportionate when the extra pounds are lost unevenly. The duration of the procedure will depend on where you wish the liposuction to target and the amount of fat that is present.

Tummy Tuck - During a tummy tuck, an incision is made in the lower abdomen that extends from hip to hip. Not only is skin tightened, but abdominal muscles are also repositioned to create a flat appearance. Regular activity may resume 3 weeks after the 2-to 4-hour procedure.

Arm Lift - Arm lift is performed to improve the "bat wing" appearance of the upper arms when excess skin is present. People with excess skin on the arms may feel self-conscious wearing certain short-sleeved or strapless tops. A Y-shaped or S-shaped incision is used to tone the arm by removing the extra skin and some fat. The surgery typically takes 1 to 3 hours, with a recovery period of about 1 week.

Breast Lift (with or without augmentation) - Heavier women typically have a lot of volume in their breasts, but with the rest of the weight shed the breasts also experience a loss. Sagging breasts are very common and a problem that may not be fixed with even the best push-up bra. A breast lift will remove excess skin and help achieve a more pleasing contour. If more volume is desired, breast augmentation can also be performed at the same time. For most patients, recovery is between 1 and 2 weeks.

Lower Body Lift - More extensive and time-consuming during surgery and recovery is the lower body lift. However, when excess skin is a serious problem in the lower half the body, the lower body lift will address skin laxity and excess deposits of localized fat in the abdomen, hips, waist, outer thighs, and buttocks without several separate scars. It can take up to 4 weeks to return to normal activity after a lower body lift.

Candidates considering weight loss surgery should not have to sacrifice their appearance for health. Being aware of options to correct any resulting problems with sagging skin that can occur will help patients to feel better about their success each step of the way.

Post Weight Loss Surgery Specialists

Dr. Bitar and his associate Dr. Centeno of Bitar Cosmetic Surgery Institute in Northern Virginia are specialists in cosmetic surgical procedures for massive weight loss patients. They have extensive experience and are recognized nationally as experts in this unique field.

Dr. George Bitar is board certified and fellowship trained. He holds a medical degree from George Washington University School of Medicine, where he is also an Assistant Clinic Professor. His bio can be found at To have specific questions about the award winning surgeon, the procedures he performs, or his practice answered, please call (703) 206-0506 with your queries.


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