Massive weight loss can result in multiple areas of the body requiring recontouring. Most commonly it is the abdomen extending onto the hips that people are concerned about, but after massive weight loss this might be in conjunction with loose skin on the thigh, loose skin on the upper inner arms, loose skin on the lateral chest and empty droopy breasts. Quite often it is necessary to carry out abdominal recontouring surgery in the context of these surrounding loose areas.
Sometimes we are able to do more than one procedure at a time, addressing more than one area needing contouring. At times a staged approach is required where four or five operations are planned in combination in episodes in a workable fashion addressing areas in sequence over an extended period of time allowing each area to heal before going on to the next one.
After massive weight loss it can be more difficult to achieve a perfectly youthful contour because of the degree of loose skin. Usually an improvement is feasible and often people find scars more acceptable than skin excess.
As compared to patients who have not had massive weight loss, for each operation, the risk of complication is higher and the possibility of requiring revision is higher. The possibility of minor problems such as asymmetry or residual folds is higher. In spite of these additional challenges many people who have lost a great deal of weight find travelling a surgical journey worth while and rising to the challenge of surgical re-contouring worth the effort.
For someone who has lost a great deal of weight discussing the ‘big picture’ with your surgeon is valuable mentioning all areas of concern so an overall strategy can be put together that takes into account how one procedure can be put in context of other areas of concern.
Patients who have lost a great deal of weight often have more general issues too, related to nutrition, general health effects of prior excess weight, aspects related to procedures undergone to achieve massive weight loss, or psychological stresses. These may all need to be explored.
It is often sensible to undergo re-contouring surgery after massive weight loss as a multi-disciplinary approach, with good communication between the different practitioners and input from nutritionists, psychologists, general practitioners and obesity surgeons. It is worth spending time with your surgeon making sure that all the broader issues are adequately addressed in order to make surgery as safe and successful as possible.
Massive weight loss surgery - A patient’s story:
“A life changing three year diet and a 15 stone weight-loss was certainly something to celebrate. I now weighed 10 stones, had a much healthier lifestyle and was no longer a statistic about to succumb to diabetes, heart problems or a myriad of other obesity related ailments.
Was I happy? In blunt terms No. My decades of overeating had destroyed the elasticity in my skin and I was left with a permanent reminder; a body that could only be likened to that of a deflated balloon. My vision, my dream of re-inventing myself, of wearing fashionable clothes rather than ones that covered me up; of not being self conscious in beachwear or just being able to go into a shop and buy standard sizes. All of that was a pipe dream.
There was nothing I could do about it; I might as well wave a magic wand as exercise alone was pointless. All was not lost though as my fairy god-mother was about to appear!
In November 09 I had my initial consultation with Margaret Strick. I was impressed by her sympathetic understanding of my situation. She listened and spoke to me in ways that I could understand the surgeries I would require to remove the swathes of excess skin that enveloped my body. Surgery is not an easy option for anyone, however in my case it was the only one, and between the both of us we agreed upon a course of action that would require numerous procedures to complete.
My first surgery was in Dec 09 when I had an abdominoplasty. The removal of over 5 kilos of skin (almost 1 stone) meant it was more than just a standard ‘tummy-tuck’. Her attention to detail and her precision was such that in March 10 I had further surgery. The final outcome from both procedures was truly amazing, vastly and permanently improving my life.
Next came the ubiquitous ‘boob-job’. Her ability as a woman to empathise with a female patient is immeasurable. Her understanding of the vision I had to somehow transform my ‘udders’ into average sized, pert breasts was of an immense comfort. Again this was a complicated procedure and I knew it would take more than one surgery to deliver the results we wanted.
In May 10 I had the first ‘boob-job’ and in Sept 10 I had the final operation which also included an arm-uplift – the removal of my bat-wings! The final outcome from all of my 4 surgeries is amazing. I’ve had a staggering amount of skin removed and the scarring is negligible – practically invisible!
My recovery from all the surgeries was text-book. I knew what to expect at every stage of my journey. Pain management was outstanding and the standard of care and the professionalism shown by Ms Strick and hospital staff was simply superb. My weight loss and body-sculpting journey has been lengthy. It hasn’t been easy but it has been unquestionably the best thing I have ever done and I wouldn’t have achieved the results I now have without the help and guidance from Ms Strick. I heartily recommend her as a surgeon of choice.