Massive weight-loss surgery often leads to cosmetic surgery

September 16, 2011

Massive weight-loss surgery often leads to cosmetic surgery
Massive weight-loss surgery often leads to cosmetic surgery

Weight loss surgeries such as gastric banding, gastric bypass and others have grown in popularity in recent years.

According to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS), about 220,000 people with morbid obesity in the U.S. had bariatric surgery in 2009. Compare that figure with the 17,000 weight loss surgeries that WebMD reports occurred in 1993 and you'll see how popular these procedures have become.

While these procedures can help morbidly obese individuals lose significant amounts of weight and improve their overall health, many who undergo these surgeries are often left with excess, sagging skin.

"Excess skin and fat can be physically and emotionally uncomfortable for weight-loss patients," an Illinois-based plastic surgeon who often performs post-bariatric surgeries says. "Many of them have been working for years to lose weight and achieve the figure they've always wanted. Often patients can also develop rashes or other physical problems from the excess skin. For many, plastic surgery is the final step on their weight loss journey."

According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), this sagging skin commonly develops around the face, neck, upper arms, breast, abdomen, buttocks and thighs and can make your body contour appear irregular and misshapen.

"Post-bariatric surgery is a very important part of rehabilitation," a New York-based plastic surgeon tells WebMD.

In fact, many individuals who have undergone dramatic weight loss, whether due to surgery or other means, often will need several other body contouring surgeries to enhance the look of their new bodies.

Plastic surgeons often perform surgeries such as face and neck lifts, arm lifts, breast lifts, medial thigh lifts, lower body lifts and panniculectomies, which remove the apron of skin that often remains on the lower abdomen, under the belly button. The procedures chosen often depend on the patient’s aesthetic goals, anatomy and physical health.

While some of these post-bariatric surgeries can be performed at once, patients often need to have multiple operations performed in stages, with as much as several months in between procedures.

"You break it down because it's unsafe to do it all at once," the New York-based surgeon told WebMD.

He says many weight loss patients start with a lower body lift and then follow-up with other procedures several months afterwards.

"The patient will undergo a breast lift and complete inner thigh reconstruction because I only get some of it with lower body lift and then months down the road we do the face, neck and arms." 


The mission of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) includes medical education, public education and patient advocacy. Plastic Surgery News Briefs are summaries of current stories found through various news and magazine outlets that relate to or mention plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures. The views expressed in these news articles do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ASAPS, but are merely published as an educational service to our members and the general public. For additional information on these subjects and other plastic surgery related topics, please go to www.surgery.org

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About ASAPS
The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), is recognized as the world’s leading organization devoted entirely to aesthetic plastic surgery and cosmetic medicine of the face and body.  ASAPS is comprised of over 2,600 Plastic Surgeons; active members are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (USA) or by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and have extensive training in the complete spectrum of surgical and non-surgical aesthetic procedures. International active members are certified by equivalent boards of their respective countries. All members worldwide adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and must meet stringent membership requirements.

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