Post-Bariatric Reconstruction Surgery: Is It Right for You?

Post-Bariatric Reconstruction Surgery: Is It Right for You?

Body contouring refers to a broad field of plastic surgery procedures that address areas of excess fat and/or skin. Body contouring procedures can be performed in normal-weight patients, patients who have lost significant weight through diet and exercise, and patients who have lost weight after bariatric surgery.

Post-bariatric reconstruction surgery (or body contouring) can help people who have lost a lot of weight tighten up skin and achieve a more aesthetic look. This surgery also helps with the removal of excess droopy skin. The operation is a way to unburden a patient from the remnants of their severe weight problem.

Thanks to modern medicine, Dr. Khan’s Detroit area team has the distinct honor of helping people move past a time in their lives when they were unhealthy and – very likely – unhappy. Obesity is mentally debilitating as well as physically challenging. The advancements that have been made within our field have changed lives.

The Obesity Epidemic

While being overweight presents health risks even if you are just a bit on the heavier side, bariatric surgery is not meant for people who are just a bit overweight. It is a last resort for people who have tried all other options. However, the number of people who need the surgery is rising at a shocking rate. Here are two shocking statistics:

31% of adults

15% of children and teenagers age 6-19 are overweight

Yes, you read that right. 1/3 of adults are obese. They are severely and morbidly overweight. This epidemic has been gaining speed over the last few decades as people eat more and more and move less and less. Unfortunately, as you can logically work out on your own, the less we move and the more we eat, the bigger we get. The bigger we get, the less mobile we are. The cycle is vicious and dangerous.

When a person reaches a certain level of obesity, it may be close to impossible for them to lose weight without medical intervention. Though bariatric surgery is not a first defense against obesity, it can be used as a component of a weight loss plan. It is a surgery that can give people a second chance at life.

31% of adults and 15% of children and teenagers age 6-19 are overweight

The Effects Of Bariatric Surgery

If a person is more than 100 pounds overweight, with a BMI of 35-40 and has diabetes or a metabolic syndrome, asthma, loss of bladder control, or obstructive sleep apnea, etc. they may be eligible for weight loss surgery.

The effects of the surgery include:

  • Hormonal changes following bariatric surgery progress weight loss by enhancing calories burned.
  • Over 90 percent of bariatric surgery recipients are able to continue a long-term weight loss.
  • Bariatric patients have an 89 percent greater reduction in mortality (found in a study done over a 5-year observation period).

Many diseases or illnesses that are caused or aggravated by obesity will improve, if not completely disappear in some patients. Diseases associated with obesity include:

  • high blood pressure
  • sleep apnea
  • asthma
  • arthritis
  • cholesterol abnormalities
  • gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • fatty liver disease
  • venous stasis
  • urinary stress incontinence
  • pseudotumor cerebri
Post-Bariatric Reconstruction Surgery

What NOT To Expect From Bariatric Surgery

What you mustn’t expect or anticipate is that your body will immediately change and that you will look like a magazine centerfold. Those expectations are unrealistic and will leave the patient disappointed. There will be a long healing period followed by an adjustment to your new body.

Your quality of life may be positively affected by bariatric surgery. Increased mobility and self-esteem are two big changes that are often noticed quickly. The ability to engage in work and social interactions may result in reduced depression and emotional situations. This can also cut out unemployment and disability in some people.

These are all wonderful benefits and you will begin enjoying them almost immediately. However, you cannot expect “miracles”. The reality is that if you wish to achieve a smooth and sleek contour, more surgeries will likely be necessary. The skin stretches and following weight-loss, the skin tries to bounce back. The way that the skin bounces back will basically determine if you will need reconstructive plastic surgery. If there is great recoil capacity in the skin, the skin should bounce back. However, if the skin does not shrink back, more surgeries will become necessary.

Do I Need Post-Bariatric Reconstruction Surgery?

Naturally occurring elastic fibers in skin are like the elastic fibers in a rubber band. With enough persistent stretch applied, the fibers in the rubber band will become weakened. We have all seen a rubber band that won’t bounce back. Once the doctor has removed the load from the rubber band, the elastic fibers contract, but how much will depend. The two major issues influencing skin recoil are the quantity of stretched skin and skin’s age.

But, how do you know how “old” your skin is? Is it not just as old as you are? No. There’s a bit more to it. Other than just how old the patient is, minor factors that are considered when calculating the skin’s age include:

  • Sun damage
  • Smoking
  • Malnutrition and/or poor vitamin intake
  • Your skin type and Genetics

It is important to understand that even minor amounts of excess skin can become clammy and harbor microbes leading to chronic skin infections. For this reason, your doctor may feel that you need the operation for purely health reasons.

Naturally occurring elastic fibers in skin are like the elastic fibers in a rubber band. With enough persistent stretch applied, the fibers in the rubber band will become weakened. 

However, there is a mental health component which cannot be ignored. Unfortunately, some patients still feel less than pleased with their body even after a 100-pound weight-loss or more. This type of reconstructive plastic surgery is independent of the amount of skin and is performed to help complete the patient’s psychological weight-loss journey.

Post-Bariatric Reconstruction Surgery

What Are The Possible Post-Bariatric Reconstruction Surgeries?

There are many options for reconstruction surgeries and it depends a great deal on what exactly you need. Often, patients need more than one of the following procedures:

  • Abdominoplasty (aka “tummy tuck”)
  • Panniculectomy: the elimination of excess skin (referred to as a pannus) sagging down to the thigh area
  • Mastopexy: breast lift
    • crescent lift (for minimum sagging)
    • donut lift (for moderate sagging)
    • full mastopexy (for extreme sagging)
  • Mammaplasty: breast reduction.
  • Belt lipectomy (most commonly referred to as lower body lift): This is often completed over multiple surgeries as it has to do with lifting the entire low body
  • Brachioplasty: arm lift.
  • Thighplasty: thigh lift.
  • Liposuction

How Do I Know If This Is The Right Decision?

In short, you cannot know for sure if this is the right thing for you without a lot of research and a consultation with your surgeon. However, if you have already undergone weight loss surgery and still wish to look and feel better and more like your true self then additional surgery is an option to consider.

Plastic surgery is not right for everyone but talking to a doctor will help you make a choice. There are considerations like how much weight you have lost and our field is not a one-size-fits-all field. We take our patients’ personal needs into account with each and every procedure. If you need help deciding whether you need the procedure, contact us here or call us at: 734-419-1615

26850 Providence Pkwy

Suite 125

Novi, MI 48374

734-419-1615

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