Aesthetic Contouring in the Massive Weight Loss Patient

NEW YORK, NY (May 16, 2003) — Plastic surgery is not a treatment for obesity but, once the inches are off, aesthetic plastic surgeons have ways to help patients who have lost a significant amount of weight - even a hundred pounds or more. "The 21st Century requires new thoughts and new goals for aesthetic contouring of the massive weight loss patient," says plastic surgeon Ted Lockwood, MD, of Overland Park, KS. Dr. Lockwood joins other experts discussing effective approaches to the aesthetic problems associated with massive weight loss; the panel is featured at the Annual Meeting of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), May 16-21, in Boston.

Obesity has become epidemic in the United States, and Americans are turning to a variety of weight loss methods including diet, exercise, medication, and bariatric surgery. According to the American Society for Bariatric Surgery, there were over 63,000 weight loss surgeries performed in 2002, an estimated 273% increase since 1997.

The unprecedented increase in the number of massive weight loss patients has caused an increased demand for cosmetic surgery to address the resulting aesthetic concerns. Many patients seek a solution to the loose, hanging skin that remains after excess fat has disappeared. Traditionally, this problem has been addressed with procedures such as tummy tucks (abdominoplasty), and the goals of surgery were limited mostly to the abdominal area. However, plastic surgeons now can treat the entire lower body, performing procedures such as belt lipectomy, which combines a tummy tuck with excision of skin and fat circumferentially - that is, treating the sides and back as well as the stomach. This is often done in conjunction with lipoplasty (liposuction), a fat reduction procedure that helps the surgeon further refine body contour aesthetics. Other areas of the body - such as the thighs, buttocks, chest and upper arms - may also be treated with lipoplasty and/or excisional techniques. Dr. Lockwood says that the development of multiple body contouring procedures for massive weight loss patients has been evolutionary, with the aim of minimizing resultant scars or at least locating them where they can be camouflaged by most types of clothing.

Treating these patients presents an exciting challenge for aesthetic plastic surgeons, according to Dr. Lockwood, because the resulting changes in patients' lives are so significant. "Some patients have lost hundreds of pounds, their bodies have undergone dramatic transformations, and they now want to look as good as they feel," he says. "People can lose weight and hide the excess skin under clothing, but after a while they get tired of hiding it. They want to get rid of it and enjoy the new bodies they worked so hard for."


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 nonsurgical 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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