Losing a significant amount of weight is a definite triumph for any formerly obese man or woman, yet the victory can feel hollow when you’re left with loose folds of skin and excess tissue long after reaching that hard-won goal. After weight loss, plastic surgery can help accentuate your physical transformation while contributing to the psychological encouragement you need to maintain your healthier new lifestyle long-term.
Recognized as a post-weight loss body contouring specialist and one of the top cosmetic surgeons in the Mobile-Pensacola metro area, Dr. James Koehler is a board certified cosmetic surgeon serving patients from Gulfport to Gulf Shores and beyond. In addition to post-bariatric plastic surgery, Dr. Koehler offers a wide range of cosmetic surgery procedures for both men and women, and is known for his caring commitment to a patient-first approach.
Are You a Candidate?
If you’ve recently lost a large amount of weight (or even a small amount of weight that’s left excess skin behind), you might be a good candidate for body contouring. It’s important to have reached your target weight and then kept your weight steady for several months. You should also be committed to maintaining your current weight and existing diet and exercise routine in order to see long-lasting results. The best candidates should also be in good physical and mental health overall, and have realistic expectations about their outcome.
“Body contouring” is a blanket term that can include a number of different procedures, depending on your specific needs and preferences. Typically, post-bariatric plastic surgery includes major surgeries such as a tummy tuck, but may also include body sculpting procedures for fine-tuning your figure like liposuction or breast enhancement. Dr. Koehler will work with you to understand your cosmetic goals so he can create a customized that’s tailored just for you.
About Body Contouring after Weight Loss
Skin and tissue are very elastic, which makes your body capable of accommodating a wide range of body shapes and sizes as well as temporary life changes such as pregnancy and weight fluctuation. However, after many years of being stretched out significantly, the skin may lose its ability to properly retract at the same pace that you’re losing weight, especially if the weight loss is very fast.
When rapid body changes occur at the level that post-bariatric and other weight loss surgery patients experience, the skin simply can’t keep up. This can lead to large folds of skin and fatty tissue that no amount of exercise or diet can correct, and which can continue hampering your physical capabilities as well as undermining your self-image. Plastic surgery can complement your weight loss achievements by eliminating excess skin and tissue for a slimmer, more streamlined look.
What to Expect
During your consultation, Dr. Koehler will talk with you about the results you hope to see after your surgery, as well as conduct a physical evaluation in order to determine which approach will work best for you. It’s not uncommon to stage post-weight loss plastic surgery procedures, beginning with the area of greatest concern and performing multiple surgeries until your goal is reached.
After weight loss, plastic surgery procedures that Dr. Koehler may recommend include:
- A tummy tuck, to remove excess skin and correct any muscular separation that may have occurred in the abdomen
- A belt lipectomy, or lower body lift, to improve skin laxity through the abdomen as well as the thighs and buttocks
- A thigh lift, which removes loose skin and fatty tissue from the inner and/or outer thighs
- An upper arm lift to improve the appearance of “bat wings” and better accentuate muscle tone
- Liposuction, which complements other surgeries or can be used to slim down isolated problem spots
- A neck lift and/or face lift to correct excess sagginess through the lower face, jowls and upper neck
- In women, a breast lift, combined with either breast reduction for a more proportionate look or breast implants to replace lost volume
- In men, male breast reduction to restore more masculine lines to the chest and torso
During your consultation, Dr. Koehler will discuss the ways these procedures can work together to bring out the best in your body as a whole.
Risks and Complications
The risks of post-weight loss body contouring include the side effects that each surgery could present when performed individually. These include possibilities like excess bleeding or infection, as well as complications like irregular contours, although this is rare when the procedures are performed by an experienced cosmetic surgeon. Dr. Koehler will go over all the risks and benefits with you before your procedure so you’re fully informed about what to expect.
Your New Look
Immediately after surgery, you should see a dramatic change in your body shape due to the removal of excess skin. Many men and women find that their clothing fits better and they’ve gone down one or more sizes, even though their weight remains about the same. More important than the physical changes, though, is the tremendous psychological boost that comes from finally feeling proud of your healthy new body and the tremendous weight loss success you’ve achieved.
After Weight Loss FAQs
Is the cost of post-weight-loss surgery covered by insurance?
Not usually. Cosmetic surgery following weight loss is typically considered an elective procedure, so most insurance policies do not cover it. However, if there is a specific medical necessity for a certain procedure after significant weight loss, insurance may cover a portion of the costs.
If you have additional questions, call the number on the back of your insurance card for more information about your policy.
How do I choose the right cosmetic surgeon near me for cosmetic surgery after weight loss?
Start by looking for credentials like certification with the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, as well as experience performing post-weight-loss cosmetic surgery. Once you’ve narrowed your search, schedule a consultation or two to meet with potential cosmetic surgeons. Use this time to ask questions and build a rapport with him or her. Choose the best fit for you at the end of this process.
How do I know which post-weight-loss procedures are best for me?
The right procedures for you will depend on your primary trouble areas and your personal goals. Some of the most common procedures that men and women get following massive weight loss include tummy tuck, lower body lift, thigh lift, arm lift, and neck or facelift.
Women may choose to include a breast lift with or without implants, while some men opt for male breast reduction. Your procedure can be completely customized to suit your needs and goals.
Is cosmetic surgery after weight loss painful?
Most post-weight-loss cosmetic procedures are performed under general anesthesia, so you shouldn’t feel any pain or discomfort. After your cosmetic surgery, some tenderness, discomfort, swelling, and bruising are to be expected.
Dr. Koehler will prescribe you pain medication to help you stay as comfortable as possible during recovery.
What can I expect during my recovery?
Your recovery experience and timeline will depend on the scope of your post-weight-loss cosmetic surgery and which and how many procedures you choose to include. Generally speaking, many people are able to return to work within 1 to 2 weeks after surgery. However, this can vary from person to person.
When will I see my final results?
Expect your results to gradually improve over the weeks and months following your procedure. Residual swelling often conceals results after body contouring procedures, so don’t be alarmed if you don’t immediately see the figure you’d hoped for.
You should be able to have a good idea of your final results around the three-month mark. Keep in mind that final results can continue to develop for 6 to 12 months, depending on the specific procedures involved.
How long will my results last?
This largely depends on your lifestyle habits and your ability to maintain a healthy diet and exercise regimen. Results following post-weight-loss cosmetic surgery can be very long-lasting, although it is still possible to gain weight again in the treated areas.
As with any cosmetic surgery, the natural aging process will gradually affect your results over time.