Q&A Topic: Excess Skin Removal After Weight Loss
Michael H. Rosenberg, MD, FACS
Q. Why do people have skin removal surgery?
A. If you’re overweight or obese, significant weight loss through diet and exercise or bariatric surgery has tremendous health benefits. In fact, losing weight and lowering your BMI lowers your risk for heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. But losing a ton of weight quickly could cause some unwanted, hanging, loose skin on your arms, abdomen and thighs. Sagging skin might also cause pain, rashes and infection. Skin removal surgery, or body-contouring, restores the body’s more natural shape by removing excess skin. This can help you complete your weight loss journey, allowing you to finally see the body you’ve worked hard for when you look into the mirror.
Q. What does the surgery involve? Will I have scarring?
A. Body contouring is specialized plastic surgery and includes lower body lifts (abdomen, buttocks and thighs), upper body lifts (arms, back, bra line and breasts), and panniculectomies, which remove an “apron” of skin, called a pannus, hanging below the belly button. For all procedures, an incision is made and sagging skin and fat is removed. Small, absorbable sutures close the wound. While these procedures can’t be done without scarring, the art of plastic surgery involves camouflaging scars in natural crease lines or in places that are hidden by clothes. Any scar that’s left typically doesn’t bother my patients. They embrace their bodies – feeling more empowered, attractive and healthier than ever. They have a huge boost in self-confidence post-surgery.
Q. What’s recovery like? Are complications common?
A. For the first week or so after surgery, you’ll want to take it easy. You can walk, but I don’t recommend other exercise. Complications are rare, but bleeding and delayed wound healing may occur. You’ll be pretreated with antibiotics to prevent infection, but there will be swelling, bruising, and scarring. Usually patients can drive a week after surgery, and most can resume work about two weeks after surgery. Early walking is encouraged, but for more strenuous exercise, we recommend waiting between four and six weeks. The wait may be worth it as many patients tell me they have more endurance and flexibility after recovery. One patient even remarked how she could finally see the toes she was reaching towards.
Q. Am I a good candidate?
A. Because Northern Westchester Hospital has such a successful bariatric surgery program, I’ve had the opportunity to do a lot of this work and I can tell you that this is a motivated group of patients with realistic expectations. If you’ve reached your weight loss goal through diet and exercise, or are nine months to a year post-bariatric surgery and have maintained a healthy weight for three months, you may be a good candidate for this procedure.
Learn More about Dr. Rosenberg
Institute of Aesthetic Surgery & Medicine,
Associate Medical Director
Northern Westchester Hospital
Northern Westchester Hospital is a proud member of Northwell Health.