Skin Care Cosmetic Procedures Body Contouring Excess Skin

Once skin has been stretched for a significant period of time, it loses some of its collagen and elasticity. As a result, after people experience a dramatic weight loss, they typically have saggy, loose skin.

While loose skin can affect any area of the body, it usually occurs on the breasts, stomach, arms, knees and buttocks. For those who have permanently lost large amounts of weight, getting rid of excess skin is one of the final steps they need to take to feel comfortable in their bodies.

Body contouring is a surgical cosmetic procedure that is usually the best solution for those looking to get rid of excess skin. A number of different types of body contouring procedures exist, depending on the area(s) of the body you are tightening up. For example, while a body sculpting procedure that focuses on the abdominal region is specifically referred to as an abdominoplasty, a body lift of the upper thighs and buttocks is known as a belt lipetomy.

Within the past 10 years, the number of body contouring procedures people have undergone has more than doubled. Experts estimate that nearly 50,000 people get body contouring surgery each year.

Reasons for Body Contouring Surgery

Some of the most common reasons that people undergo body contouring surgery include wanting to get rid of extra skin after:

  • aging
  • gastric bypass surgery
  • liposuction
  • pregnancy
  • significant weight loss (100 pounds or more).

Those who are in good health and who don’t plan on regaining the lost weight are the best candidates for this type of cosmetic procedure.

Initial Consultations for Body Contouring Surgery

As you are deciding whether or not a body contouring operation is right for you, meet with a few potential surgeons to find an experienced doctor whom you trust and with whom you feel comfortable. Once you have selected a surgeon, you will see him for an initial consultation during which you will discuss:

  • advantages of the surgery
  • associated costs
  • estimated recovery times
  • potential side effects or complications
  • risks of the surgery
  • the type of surgery that is right for you
  • whether or not you need multiple procedures
  • your expectations.

You will likely have one more consultation with your surgeon a few days to one week before the body sculpting surgery. During this pre-operative appointment, your doctor will describe the surgery in more detail and will inform you on:

  • how you can prepare for the surgery
  • the estimated recovery time for the procedure
  • the possible complications.

Your doctor will also likely tell you to bring loose clothing for after the surgery so that you won’t have to move a lot when changing to leave the hospital or outpatient clinic.

The Surgical Procedure: What to Expect

In general, body sculpting surgeries are outpatient surgeries that require epidural or general anesthesia. These procedures can take anywhere from four to eight hours.

On the day of the surgery, you will show up to the facility where the surgery is being performed at the designated time. After you have changed into the surgical gown, you will be fitted with an IV and then will receive the appropriate anesthesia.

Immediately after the surgery, your doctor will meet with you to relate the overall success of the procedure.

Recovering from Body Sculpting Procedures

Depending on the extent of the surgery, patients will typically need to stay in the outpatient facility or hospital for one to four nights after the procedure to ensure that their vital signs are stable and that no infections have occurred.

After surgery, doctors will implant tubes through the treated area to help drain excess fluids and prevent infections. They will also prescribe medication to help reduce swelling, relieve pain and prevent any possible complications from arising.

While body contouring patients can expect pain, inflammation and bruising to last for about three weeks after the procedure, after this time most patients can return to work and other daily activities.

Risks and Complications of Body Contouring

Like any major surgery, body contouring surgery has some associated risks, which increase as the procedure gets more involved. Some of the possible complications include:

  • blood clots
  • deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a condition in which a floating blood clot gets lodged in the veins, blocking regular blood flow
  • depression
  • excessive bleeding
  • general inflammation
  • infections
  • loss of sensation
  • opening of incisions
  • remaining loose, saggy skin
  • pain
  • scars
  • unsatisfactory results.

Keep in mind that one body sculpting procedure may not be enough to meet your needs. In some cases, patients have to undergo multiple procedures to get the results they want. Your doctor should evaluate how many procedures you need in your initial consultations before surgery.

Resources (n.d.). Body Contouring Information. Retrieved November 8, 2007 from the R4MD Web site:

The Cleveland Clinic Health Information Center (n.d.). Body-Contouring Surgery After Significant Weight Loss. Retrieved November 8, 2007 from the CCHIC Web site: