Contours In The Right Places: Your Options For Body Contouring After Weight Loss

Elizabeth Laikhter BA contributed to this article.

Dr. Samuel Lin is a double board-certified Plastic Surgeon and Associate Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School who practices in Boston, Massachusetts. Dr. Lin is an active Board Member of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure and Bright Pink Foundations. Dr. Lin is active in both basic science and clinical research with a focus on face/neck/nose surgery (rhinoplasty), breast surgery (reduction, lift, and reconstruction), and body contouring. He collaborates with engineers, scientists, and other plastic surgeons at other institutions within the New England area, nationally, and internationally. He is the editor of several medical textbooks including Aesthetic Atlas of the Head and Neck, Atlas of Body Contouring, and Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Pearls of Wisdom and Pearls of Wisdom Second and Third Editions. Haute Beauty Expert Dr. Samuel Lin offers multiple options for body contouring after weight loss to get rid of excess skin.

body contouringPhoto Credit: ShutterstockIf you have recently lost a large amount of weight, you are a superstar! Congratulations on an amazing milestone in your health journey. Although you have achieved this amazing feat, what few people talk about is the excess skin that results from significant weight loss. This excess skin can feel like the final piece weighing you down, overshadowing your accomplishments. We will walk you through your options for body contouring after weight loss to help lift the final weight off.

Surgical Body Contouring

Surgical body contouring procedures include breast augmentation (breast lift), abdominoplasty (tummy tuck), Brachioplasty (arm lift), gluteal augmentation and lift, and thigh lift. Each of these procedures removes excess fat and skin in their respective areas. Since these procedures are surgical, they are performed under intravenous sedation or general anesthesia, therefore patients are asleep during the procedure.

A breast lift adds contour to the breasts, which can appear to sag with age or weight loss. The incision a plastic surgeon chooses depends on each patient’s individual breast shape and the amount of excess skin to be removed. Sometimes a breast implant may be recommended to enhance the size of the breast. After the procedure, the closed incision wraps around the circumference of the areola, extends vertically downward, and extends horizontally in the breast crease. This allows for minimal scar visibility, especially once the incision is fully healed.

An abdominoplasty is a surgical procedure involving the removal of excess fat and skin in the abdominal area. It also involves the restoration of weakened abdominal muscles, thus creating a smoother and firmer abdomen. The surgical incision can be hidden lower in the swimsuit line, allowing patients to wear almost any type of clothing without worrying about a visible scar.

BrachioplastyPhoto Credit: ShutterstockA Brachioplasty is performed to remove excess skin from the upper arms, which is most noticeable when extending the arms horizontally. The incision extends from the underarm area to the elbow along the inside or back of the upper arm. Depending on the quantity of excess skin, additional excisions may be necessary. Removing the excess skin can help you be more active and increase your confidence when wearing clothing.

A gluteal augmentation and lift can be performed separately, or combined with an abdominoplasty, waist, and outer thigh lift into a ‘body lift’. The incision for a gluteal lift can either be placed where the buttocks meet the thigh or at the waistline. An incision placed where your buttocks meet the thigh can be beneficial for smoothing the contour of the back of the thigh, whereas an incision at the waistline can extend circumferentially in order to be combined with an abdominoplasty. With either type of incision, the buttocks will appear smoother and firmer. Deep dissolving sutures are placed in underlying tissues to support newly shaped contours. Incisions may be closed with sutures, staples, or clips, and scars will diminish over time with proper postoperative scar care.

While an outer thigh lift can be combined with a buttock lift, and an inside medial thigh lift involves a separate incision. The incision for a medial thigh lift extends from the groin area down the inside of the thigh toward the knee. Skin from the inner thigh is removed to create a smoother inner thigh contour, improving the appearance of the thigh and lifting the weight off the thighs to help you continue living an active lifestyle.

Liposuction is a non-surgical adjunct that can be combined with body contouring procedures to enhance the final contoured appearance of your body. However, it is not used alone for contouring after weight loss. Liposuction involves the removal of fat by injecting a solution called tumescent that allows for the fat to become amenable to suctioning by a thin instrument called a cannula. The incisions involved in liposuction are minimally noticeable. However, it may take a few months to see the final contoured results.

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