So you have successfully managed to lose a lot of weight, but you now have a new challenge to deal with: loose skin.
While common, sagging skin is not inevitable. The degree to which you may experience loose skin depends on factors such as age, genetics, how long you have been overweight, and whether you smoke.
Fortunately, there are various ways to tighten loose skin after weight loss. Depending on the amount of weight you’ve lost, you can either opt to go for a loose skin surgery or use natural remedies.
In this article, we will be discussing about different surgeries conducted to address loose skin.
Loose Skin Removal Surgery Overview
Fortunately, if you experience loose skin after weight loss, cosmetic surgeries such as weight loss surgery, panniculectomy, tummy tuck, arm lift, thigh lift can help remove the excess skin and fat and tone the underlying tissue.
Skin removal surgery typically entails a combination of body contouring procedures that target your arms, breasts, face, abdomen, buttocks, and thighs.
Loose Skin Surgery Treatments
Depending on your areas of concern, your plastic surgeon may recommend either of these procedures to correct saggy skin:
You are probably going, what is a panniculectomy? Well, after weight loss, you may have excess skin and fat hanging from your lower abdomen. This excess skin is known as a pannus or an apron.
A panniculectomy incision is like that of a tummy tuck, i.e., made horizontally between your pubic hairline and belly button.
And your surgeon will also typically make a second incision around your navel. However, unlike a tummy tuck, a panniculectomy does not tighten the abdominal muscles.
Tummy tuck (abdominoplasty)
The goal of a tummy tuck is to flatten your abdomen, where exercise and weight loss fail to get the job done. It achieves this by:
- Removing excess sagging skin and fat from your abdominal area
- Tightening the underlying weakened muscles
- Repairing separated abdominal muscles (diastasis recti)
Lower body lift
A lower body lift removes loose skin and excess fat and tightens the underlying supporting muscles in the following areas:
The procedure requires extensive incisions around the circumference of your body that are similar to a bikini pattern.
Your surgeon excises the excess skin and fat and tightens the tissues through the incision. He/she may also use liposuction to improve the contours of your lower body.
Arm lift (Brachioplasty)
Drastic weight loss or growing older may result in loose skin and unwanted fat deposits in the underside of your upper arm.
An arm lift surgery or Brachioplasty removes this extra fat and skin while tightening and toning the underlying muscles.
The surgeon will usually make the incisions on the inside or back of your arm. The incisions may extend from your armpit to the elbow.
Your surgeon will determine the length and pattern depending on the location and amount of excess skin requiring removal.
A thigh lift reshapes your inner and outer thighs by removing excess skin and fat from the region.
The incision pattern depends on the degree of correction required and you and your surgeon’s preference. Your surgeon may place the incisions:
- In the crotch, extending downward and wrapping around the back of the thigh
- From the crotch down to the knee along the inseam
- Only in the crotch region
- From the crotch, around your hip, and extending across the back of the thigh
Breast lift (mastopexy)
Weight loss, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and aging are among the factors that can cause your breasts to sag and appear deflated.
A breast lift or mastopexy raises your breasts to restore their youthful shape and firmness and correct breast asymmetry. It achieves this by removing excess skin and tightening the surrounding tissue.
A breast lift generally involves one of three incision patterns:
- Periareolar (donut): around your areola.
- Vertical (lollipop): around your areola, then vertically down from the areola to your breast crease.
- Inverted T (anchor): around your areola, vertically down from your breast crease, then horizontally along the breast crease.
The technique your plastic surgeon uses will depend on your breast size and shape, the size and position of your areolas, the amount of extra skin, your skin elasticity, and the degree of breast sagging.
You can also combine both breast lift and implants to optimize your surgery outcome, save money and recovery time.
Benefits of Loose Skin Surgery After Weight Loss
The benefits of loose skin surgery go beyond cosmetic enhancement. Even more important, the removal of excess skin improves your emotional health. Some of the problems associated with sagging skin include:
- Chafing and rashes that cause skin irritation and discomfort. There’s also a risk of the rashes getting infected
- Shoulder and back pain
- Reduced physical activity
- Poor body image
Imagine losing 100 or more pounds, but clothes still don’t fit you comfortably? Or having people stare every time you go outside.
Getting rid of that excess skin can improve your self-confidence and self-esteem, and overall quality of life.
Risks of Excess Skin Removal Surgery
Possible risks of plastic surgery after weight loss include:
- Anesthesia risks
- Seroma (fluid accumulation)
- Fat necrosis (death of fat tissue)
- Poor wound healing
- Numbness and other changes in sensation
- Fat necrosis
- Persistent pain
- Need for revisionary surgery
- Unfavorable scarring
Your plastic surgeon will discuss these and other possible complications during your consultation.
Ensure to ask him/her any questions you may have regarding the procedure you are considering before signing consent forms.
Loose Skin Surgery Scars
Loose skin removal through surgical treatments results in evident scars. Most scars, once they develop, become permanent. But, with different scar removal treatments in the market, it’s possible to reduce the size or change the appearance of most skin scars.
Moreover, advanced techniques allow surgeons to place incisions in strategic locations concealable by most clothing and swimsuits.
Loose Skin Surgery Cost
According to 2019 statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, here are the average costs of the body contouring procedures we’ve discussed above:
- Tummy Tuck: $6,092
- Lower body lift: $8,073
- Upper arm lift: $4,550
- Thigh lift: $5,171
- Breast lift: $4,693
A panniculectomy can cost anywhere between $8,000 to $15,000. Your final cost for these procedures will depend on factors such as anesthesia fees, surgeon’s fees, surgical facility fees, medical test fees, and prescribed medications.
Financial Guide to Excess Skin Removal Surgery
A Tummy Tuck, lower body lift, arm lift, thigh lift, and breast lift are all cosmetic surgery procedures.
For this reason, your health insurance provider will not cover these procedures or any complications that may result.
A panniculectomy, on the other hand, is not considered cosmetic surgery. Your health insurance may, therefore, cover the procedure.
How to pay for loose skin surgery without insurance
If you do not have insurance or the procedure you want to undergo is not covered by your insurance policy, you can consider the following options:
- Payment plans. Most plastic surgeons offer payment plans to their patients. The three main financing plans are installment, recurring, and save on file. Be sure to ask your surgeon if they offer payment plans and the details of each.
- Crowdfunding. In recent years, crowdfunding has become a popular platform for raising funds for various causes, including medical expenses. You can launch a campaign yourself or have one started for you.
- Borrowing from your nest egg. Digging into your life savings for surgery may be worth it if the surgery improves your quality of life.
What Results Should I Expect After Loose Skin Removal Surgery?
Although there may be swelling and bruising, you will notice the resulting smoother, tighter contours immediately after surgery.
The results from these loose skin removal procedures are relatively permanent. However, to ensure long-lasting results, you should follow your physician’s instructions to a T and maintain a stable weight.
Note: while you should expect a good outcome, there is no guarantee. In some cases, another procedure may be necessary to achieve optimal results.
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- ABCS (n.d). Skin Removal After weight Loss. americanboardcosmeticsurgery.org/procedure-learning-center/body-procedures/skin-removal-after-weight-loss/
- Debt.org (n.d).Hospital and Surgery Costs. debt.org/medical/hospital-surgery-costs/
- ASPS (n.d). Body Contouring Skin Removal After Major Weight Loss. plasticsurgery.org/cosmetic-procedures/body-contouring.