There are countless benefits to losing weight, from improving weight related health conditions, to simply fitting into your clothes better. But loose, excess skin is after rapid weight loss is also a reality for many bariatric patients.
Unlike weight loss through diet and exercise, which typically causes slow results, patients who undergo weight loss surgery often lose weight quickly. Slower weight loss allows the skin, which has been stretched due to weight gain, to adapt and shrink as the weight comes off. When weight is lost more quickly, the skin loses some of its elasticity, resulting in loose, sagging skin.
This is undoubtedly a concern of bariatric surgery recovery for many patients and those considering bariatric surgery as an option to help them lose weight.
During a period of weight gain, skin on the body expands to accommodate the growing and increased inches. In pregnancy, for example, as the pregnancy progresses, the mother’s skin stretches to make room for her growing baby. In much the same way, the skin stretches with weight gain. While some mothers experience excess skin after pregnancy, it typically retracts in the weeks and months following delivery as she returns to her normal body weight.
Time is one factor that can contribute to excess skin after bariatric surgery. If you have been overweight or obese for some time, your skin may have been stretched out for years, damaging the components that help to keep it tight and firm. Collagen and elastin allow the skin to retract with weight loss, but over time, their ability to help your skin bounce back can diminish.
As previously mentioned, losing weight at a rapid speed may also contribute to loose skin. Many bariatric surgery patients lose the majority of their extra weight in the first few months after surgery. It isn’t uncommon for patients to lose 50 to 100 pounds in a matter of months. Unfortunately, the downside to this quick weight loss is that the skin isn’t given as much time to adapt to changes in the body and retract down to a smaller size. The more weight a patient loses; the more excess skin they will have.
Age, genetics, sun exposure and smoking are other factors that can influence elasticity of the skin. While age and genetics are out of our control, making healthy lifestyle choices can help improve the appearance of skin and overall bariatric surgery recovery, though it may not be possible to prevent excess skin altogether.
Excess skin after weight loss can present both physical and emotional challenges for the individual. Not only have you worked hard to lose weight and improve your body image, but the extra skin can be uncomfortable and may interfere with daily activity and exercise. For some patients, excess skin is even painful, with ulcers or infections developing in the loose skin.
The emotional effects of dealing with excess skin can cause poor body image and reduce self-esteem and confidence, making it more difficult or even embarrassing to attend social events. Some patients may avoid going to the gym not because of their weight, but because of the extra skin that is difficult to control during a workout.
While the pros of weight loss through bariatric surgery certainly outweigh the cons, it is important that the challenges patients face even after surgery can be addressed, so that patients are able to fully appreciate and enjoy their new life. The good news is that weight loss surgery patients have options when it comes to treating excess skin after surgery. There are both natural and surgical remedies for skin removal after bariatric surgery.
When natural remedies aren’t sufficient, body contouring surgery is a popular option for skin removal after bariatric surgery. During body contouring procedure, excess skin and fat is surgically removed. A few examples of body contouring procedures include:
Minimally invasive solutions, such as SmartLipo, ThermiTight and ThermiSmooth are also available. Body contouring procedures may be performed on different parts of the body at one time or over time following significant weight loss. Most surgeons recommend waiting at least 18 months after bariatric surgery to allow your body weight to normalize before undergoing skin removal surgery.
In most cases, surgical body contouring procedures require at least a one-night stay in the hospital. As is true with any medical procedure, there are some risks involved. Your surgeon can discuss these risks and help you choose the best option for excess skin removal after your bariatric surgery.
Surgery to remove skin after bariatric surgery can have both cosmetic and medical benefits for patients. Not only does the excess skin removal improve a patient’s appearance, boosting self-esteem and confidence, it also helps to eliminate the risk of skin infections and painful rashes that can develop in the excess skin and hinder a patient’s lifestyle.
Weight loss is essential for improving a patient’s health, but it is also about improving the patient’s quality of life. Weight loss patients often consider skin removal after bariatric surgery is often seen as the final step of their weight loss journey. If you are dealing with excess skin after rapid weight loss, contact your First Baptist Medical Center weight loss doctor today to learn more about your options.