Body Procedures » Body Contouring After Massive Weight Loss

Body Contouring After Massive Weight Loss according to Seattle Cosmetic Plastic Surgeon, Dr. Lisa Lynn Sowder

Obesity is epidemic in the United States and must be contagious because it is spreading to other areas in the world, even places like fit and trim and health conscious Seattle. Obesity surgery such as gastric bypass and gastric banding is becoming more and more common and patients will often request body contouring after massive weight loss (MWL) to treat areas of residual fat and/or loose skin.

Massive Weight Loss

  • Costs: depends on what procedures are performed
    and how long the surgery takes.  Please see the individual procedure pages.
  • Post-operative pain: usually a lot. 
  • Time in compression garment:  3 weeks.
  • Time off work or school: 3 weeks.
  • Time off driving the kids to lacrosse:  2 – 3  weeks or once you are off narcotic pain meds.
  • Time off the gym:  6 weeks.
  • Time off the slopes:  8  weeks.
  • Time off the kite board: 8 weeks.
  • Time off house work:  forever!   Just kidding, usually 4-6 weeks.
  • How longdoes it last:  forever unless you have significant weight change.
  • Patient satisfaction:   high.

Body Contouring After MWL

There are many procedures that may be appropriate for the MWL patient and usually multiple procedures are recommended to obtain the best result. It is important for MWL patients to view body contouring surgery as a major life event, every bit as stressful (sometimes more!) and life changing as their gastric surgery.

The procedures recommended depend upon the pattern of weight loss which varies from patient to patient and usually correlates to the areas that were the heaviest when the patient was obese. If a patient carried most of the weight as intraabdominal fat (beer belly fat), they will more likely benefit from an abdominoplasty, whereas a patient who had very large buttocks and thighs will more likely benefit from a lower body liftUpper arm lifts, breast lifts, thigh lifts, back lifts and face lifts are also on the menu.

As with any elective surgery, safety comes first. MWL patients must be at a stable weight and be healthy prior to having body contouring surgery. Although patients may want to get “it all done at one time”, I will usually limit the length of a procedure to 6 or 7 hours because of safety issues and also because of surgeon stamina issues. Longer procedures mean more blood loss, more anesthesia related problems, problems with maintaining body temperature, an increased risk of blood clots and possibly an increased risk of infection. Losing weight does not happen overnight and total body contouring usually doesn’t happen during one session in the operating room. Also, these procedures leave very long and sometimes very obvious scars. This is a trade off that must be accepted by the patient.

After the initial consultation, if the patient is a good candidate for surgery, we make up a list of procedures that would be beneficial. I recommend that patients start with one or two areas that bother them the very most. Patients need to prepare for surgery like an athlete prepares for competition with a lot of exercise and high quality nutrition. If there are emotional issues such as depression and/or anxiety, these need to be well controlled prior to surgery. It’s also important to assemble a team of family and/or friends to help out after surgery and also cheer you on.