The CDC tells us that nearly 35 percent of Americans are classified as obese, meaning they have a body mass index, or BMI, of 30 or more. Another one-third of us are considered overweight but not obese. It’s no wonder that weight loss concerns are on the minds of Americans, including plastic surgery patients.

But what is the role of plastic surgery in weight loss?

Weight Loss Surgery is Not Plastic Surgery

Weight loss surgery, also called bariatric surgery, includes procedures such as lap band, gastric sleeve, and gastric bypass surgeries. These are performed by general surgeons with specialized training in such procedures. They are designed to decrease the patient’s stomach capacity, and therefore his or her appetite. As you would expect, this helps the patient drop those stubborn pounds. 

These surgeries have been shown to be quite effective for those who have a significant amount of weight to lose. This can be life-changing – reducing the risk of chronic disease, lessening the strain on joints, improving appearance, and boosting confidence in those who achieve the weight loss.

But these surgeries don’t address the concerns that follow significant weight loss. Often, when someone has carried a large amount of excess weight for many years, the skin doesn’t bounce back after weight loss. These patients may be left with a new lighter body, but with sagging skin they don’t necessarily appreciate. Plus, it is a rare bariatric surgeon who has the training to address these concerns.

Plastic Surgery is Not Weight Loss Surgery

On the other hand, plastic surgery includes “body contouring” procedures such as tummy tucks, liposuction, thigh and breast lifts, and even body lifts.

These procedures do a great job in improving the appearance of individuals who have been at or near their ideal weight for at least six months. They can allow patients to wear clothes that fit well and participate freely in desired activities without the pain and even embarrassment caused by excess skin. But they are not weight loss procedures themselves. Even liposuction, which removes fat from under the skin, doesn’t result in many pounds lost. It is meant to target trouble spots that diet and exercise can’t seem to budge. So don’t expect to see the needle on the scale move much after liposuction or other body contouring procedures. They aren’t a substitute for bariatric surgery or diet and exercise.

Plastic Surgery and Weight Loss Go Hand-in-Hand

If you have lost a significant amount of weight – whether through surgery or lifestyle changes, plastic surgery can play an important role in helping you achieve your goals for your body.

Thigh lifts and tummy tucks can be used to remove and tighten up excess skin that remains after weight loss. Liposuction can target trouble spots where stubborn fat doesn’t respond to your best efforts at diet and exercise. A breast lift can restore a more youthful, perky appearance if breasts lose fullness and sag more after weight loss. After all, weight loss doesn’t discriminate among body parts.

Truly, plastic surgery after losing a significant amount of weight is a custom affair. Each body will respond differently, revealing different “problem” areas. And each individual will be bothered by different issues. One person may not mind sagging breasts but can’t live with excess tummy skin. Another may want a more youthful profile for her breasts, but not have much concern over the stubborn “love handles” that remain even after the excess weight is gone.

This is why it’s important to work with a board-certified plastic surgeon if you want to make changes after you lose weight. He will listen to your concerns and help you fine-tune your goals based on what is healthy and achievable for you. Do you have questions about plastic surgery after weight loss? Contact Dr. Slack for a consultation in his Allen, TX office.