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Facelifts for Bodies after Weight Loss Solves Sagging Problem

Tim Boyer's picture
body facelift

For many, losing weight means gaining sagging skin - sometimes so severe that some may even regret ever having decided to lose weight. But there’s new hope for such weight loss patients with a type of facelift for sagging bodies called “body contouring surgery” that health experts say is on the rise.


According to a recent newsletter from The American Society of Plastic Surgeons, weight loss (bariatric) surgeries are resulting in a growing trend of patients seeking body contouring surgery after their weight loss to rid themselves of excessive amounts of sagging skin.

This side effect of losing weight was brought to the public’s attention late last year when one weight loss success created a video of his weight loss journey that went viral after showing viewers how lost body fat is typically replaced with excess skin after he dropped 160 pounds in two years. This is a harsh reality of weight loss that has left many dieters and weight loss surgery patients feeling disappointed after discovering it takes more than losing weight to achieve a perfect body.

Fortunately, body contouring surgery is a solution to the post-weight loss sagging skin problem and apparently is catching on with the public as reports that surgical procedures specifically associated with bariatric surgery that include tummy tucks, thigh lifts, breast lifts and upper arm lifts, grew in 2014 at their fastest rate in the past four years.

"We think there is a correlation between the two types of procedures, and we expect that trend to continue," said ASPS President Scot Glasberg, MD, and private-practice plastic surgeon based in Manhattan, New York. "Post-massive weight loss patients are the number one growth area I have seen in my practice, and I'm sure that's the case in many doctor's offices across the country."

Here are the facts indicating the trend:

• In 2013, 179,000 Americans underwent weight loss surgery, averaging nearly 500 procedures every day.

• Thigh lifts and upper arm lifts had their biggest single-year increase in five years in 2014, both up nine percent.

• Tummy tucks inched up four percent.

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• Breast lift procedures posted a ten percent increase, the largest single-year gain since 2009.

"You can't attribute that to anything other than the fact that there are more massive weight loss patients out there looking to take care of the problems that they now have after their weight loss surgery," said Dr. Glasberg. "On the one hand they are thrilled to have lost so much weight, but they are trading one dilemma for another."

According to the newsletter, the dilemma is not purely aesthetics and/or vanity, but also results in patients feeling uncomfortable and even experiencing significant pain carrying around excessive skin in the thighs, under the arms, around the abdomen and in the breasts.

"It was hard for me to exercise. I couldn't do aerobics or even run because the excess skin was so bad, and no amount of compression would change that," said Jan O'Daniel of Pickerington, Ohio. Six years ago O'Daniel underwent bariatric surgery and dropped more than 130 pounds, but no matter how much weight she lost, she still didn't like what she saw. "I carried a lot of weight in my abdomen and felt like my stomach was just as big. Even though I knew it wasn't, even though I knew my clothing size had gone down six sizes, I still focused on my belly and it absolutely drove me nuts."

"That's not uncommon," said O'Daniel's plastic surgeon Jason Lichten, MD, of Lancaster, Ohio. "These patients have the tremendous psychological burden of looking into the mirror and seeing all of this extra skin that's hanging off of them, and no matter how much weight they lose, a lot of them still see themselves as heavy because of it."

Physicians are now recommending that patients and their surgeons become more involved in the big picture of what happens following weight loss surgery before the final decision is made to go through with what can become a prolonged process of multiple surgeries rather than just one surgical procedure for losing weight.

"If plastic surgeons can get involved with patients earlier, we can not only give them a more realistic idea of what to expect from a physical standpoint, but we can help them devise a plan for any follow up procedures after their weight loss," stated Dr. Lichten.

That's something O'Daniel wishes she'd done. She was so focused on losing the weight, she didn't realize there could be follow up surgeries. "I didn't realize plastic surgery was an option," she said. "I thought it was out of reach for me from an affordability standpoint, but it wasn't. I'm glad I did it, because it changed my life."

For an informative article about a bariatric surgery alternatives, here is a lesser used surgical method that actually results in more weight loss.

Reference: The American Society of Plastic Surgeons newsletter― “Massive Weight Loss Fuels Surge in Plastic Surgery