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As the science of weight gain is better understood and as the role of inflammation, sugar, and hormones such as insulin has on fat, extreme weight loss is obtainable for nearly everyone. In the last 20 years, the advent of surgical weight loss procedures such as gastric sleeve and gastric bypass surgery has literally resulted in the emergence of an entire subspecialty within plastic surgery comprising body contouring after massive weight loss.

What is body contouring after weight loss?

In many individuals, massive weight loss is one of life’s ultimate achievements. It is a giant leap toward health, wellness, and longevity. With extreme weight loss, the incidence of having deflated, loose, redundant skin folds is almost inevitable. Extra skin on the stomach, breasts, lower back, arms, and thighs is not only frustrating aesthetically but can result in chronic chafing, fungal infections, self-consciousness, and in some cases, depression.

Body contouring after massive weight loss in Charlotte NC is designed to address both the functional problems from having excess skin, as well as the aesthetic ones.

Pretty woman with hair slicked back wearing black sports bra and workout pants

Am I a candidate for a post-bariatric body lift?

The best candidates for a post-bariatric body lift are patients who have recently undergone a massive loss of weight after having gastric bypass surgery or other similar procedure, as well as those who have lost large amounts of weight through dieting or exercise and who now have large volumes of excess skin. While a body lift can certainly be done almost immediately after losing significant amounts of weight, the ideal candidate is one who has also managed to maintain their weight at or near their ideal weight for three to six months after surgery.

Ideal candidates for a post-bariatric body lift in Charlotte, NC:

  • Have excess skin that hangs from the abdomen, buttocks, inner and outer thighs, knees, or arms
  • Have adopted a healthy lifestyle and maintained a stable body weight for 3 to 6 months
  • Have allowed the skin to settle and adjust following their significant weight loss
  • Have realistic expectations for the procedure and have allotted recovery time
  • Are non-smokers in good health, physically capable of safely undergoing a surgery

Surgery After Weight Loss Videos

What procedures are available after massive weight loss? 

Tummy TuckAbdominoplasty, or tummy tuck, removes excess fat and skin from the belly, smoothing and flattening the stomach while tightening the underlying six-pack muscles.

Liposuction – The role of liposuction in massive weight loss is slightly different. Liposuction in this setting is used to debulk or deflate areas where fat loss may have plateaued or is still inadequate. Subsequent skin removal is maximized when liposuction is used to deflate areas such as the arms or thighs prior to skin removal.

Arm lift – An arm lift is performed to sculpt and trim the upper arms, removing unwanted fat and skin for a more streamlined, beach-ready appearance. The incision is well hidden on the inside of the arm between the elbow and the armpit.

Thigh lift – Redundant skin along the inner thighs and knees is a common occurrence with massive weight loss. Removing this skin helps to minimize contour irregularities and bring a more uniform shape to the lower extremities.

Breast lift – This surgery is helpful in treating breast ptosis or excess sagging. It can help remove droopy skin and restore the nipple to a more visually pleasing position. A breast lift can be performed in tandem with breast augmentation if the breast lacks sufficient volume. 

Panniculectomy – Although not usually associated with weight loss, a panniculectomy is used to describe the removal of what is typically a large, burdensome wedge of skin and fat in the lower abdomen. Removing this skin apron (also known as a pannus) helps alleviate chronic skin infections, moisture problems, low back strain, and hygiene issues. A panniculectomy is reserved for people not suitable for a tummy tuck but who need relief from the heavy tissue burden to improve their quality of life. This is strictly a debulking operation, not a contouring one. Because of the potential source of post-operative infection, the belly button is typically removed during a panniculectomy.

Body Contouring After Massive Weight Loss Before & After

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Body Contouring After Weight Loss FAQs

I’ve had gastric sleeve surgery and need body contouring. How do I know when the timing is appropriate?

An 18-month interval between bariatric surgery and body contouring surgery is typical, however patients that have reached their goal weight or plateaued may undergo body contouring surgery earlier provided that their bariatric surgeon approves of an earlier intervention.

I had gastric bypass surgery and my anatomy is now different than most people. Is your anesthesia provider familiar with patients like me?

Absolutely. Both Dr. Pratt as well as the anesthesia providers are familiar with bariatric surgery patients. Dr. Pratt’s anesthesia personnel also work in the operating rooms of the area hospitals were gastric bypass surgery is done routinely. During his general surgery residency, Dr. Pratt performed dozens of gastric bypass surgeries, so he is quite knowledgeable about the anatomical variations associated with these procedures.

I think I need my entire body lifted. In what order do you prefer to do your surgeries for massive weight loss patients?

Patient preference is always taken into consideration, however based on the extent of contouring, Dr. Pratt will develop a stepwise plan that makes the most logical sense for both the operating room as well as your ability to effectively recover.

Does my tummy tuck incision need to go all the way around? I’ve seen a couple of plastic surgeons and I’ve gotten mixed messages.

Quite often, in plastic surgery, there can be more than one correct answer. This “shades of grey” outlook and different approaches amongst surgeons is inherently part of the artistic freedom seen in plastic surgery but tends to create more confusion for prospective patients. Following your comprehensive consultation with Dr. Pratt, he will assess whether or not a circumferential tummy tuck (also known as a belt lipectomy) is indicated to become the best version of yourself. Although usually not mandatory, if sagging skin is present over the lower back and buttocks, a belt lipectomy brings about a more uniform, harmonious, neater appearing mid-section. Although the incision length is slightly longer, this typically does not mean a lengthier recovery.

My insurance company said they would pay for a portion of my surgery. Does Dr. Pratt take insurance?

In very extreme cases, some insurance companies may cover skin removal for infectious and inflammatory conditions related to skin redundancy. Insurance may cover a procedure such as panniculectomy, but invariably will not cover a more aesthetically oriented procedure such as a tummy tuck.

What should I expect from recovery?

  • Massive weight loss and the associated contouring that follows produce some of the most incredible transformations in our field. Since the amount of tissue removed can be excessive in many instances, swelling following surgery is also significant. Elevation of the extremities while lying down, longer use of compression garments, and lymphatic massage are encouraged following body contouring surgery to help expedite recovery.
  • Follow-up appointments are essential to monitor your progress, as incisions and any associated surgical drains are checked frequently.
  • Walking after your body lift is important to help prevent the risk of clots forming in the deep veins of the legs. In some instances, Dr. Pratt may prescribe a self-administered injectable blood thinner to further reduce this risk.

What Is the Cost of Body Contouring?

Body contouring is a very personalized treatment that can vary greatly from one patient to the next. Depending on your unique aesthetic goals and which treatments are needed to effectively contour your body, the cost of the procedure has a large potential range. In addition to the procedures being performed and the extent of the treatment, the price of body contouring is also impacted by the anesthesia fee, facility fee, prescription medications, post-operative garments, and other variables. When you have your consultation with Dr. Pratt, he’ll work with you to devise a custom-tailored treatment plan. He’ll then be able to give you precise information about the price of your body contouring, but it typically ranges from $12,000 to $20,000.

Why choose Dr. Pratt in Charlotte for post-bariatric surgery in Charlotte, NC?

The transformational change with massive weight loss goes far beyond numbers on a scale or a new wardrobe. Reversal of conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and sleep apnea can literally add decades to a patient’s life. The impact that weight loss has on our health, self- esteem, and our loved ones cannot be overstated. The surgeon’s approach to body contouring following massive weight should reflect the importance of this final step and outline plan that exclusively caters to you. Variables such as the distribution of your weight loss, quality of the skin, the need to modify certain procedures to suit your needs, and proper staging are among many things to consider.

Photo of Charlotte Plastic Surgeon, Dr. Pratt

Dr. Pratt's philosophy is that the goal of any aesthetic surgery is to restore youth, shape, and function. Achieving these goals consistently involves understanding the many nuances of post-bariatric surgery in Charlotte, NC. The difference between simply removing a bunch of skin versus being intentional about its removal can be the difference in; healing, scar quality, and scar positioning.

Dr. Pratt’s plan for you will be precise, calculated, and comprehensive. He recognizes this milestone in your life and will seek to sculpt the best version of your new and improved self.

Dr. Pratt graduated from the University of Florida College of Medicine then went on to complete a general surgery residency at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, NC. Upon completion of general surgery residency, he went on to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to complete his fellowship in plastic and reconstructive surgery.

His private practice is in beautiful south Charlotte, NC right in the heart of Ballantyne. Dr. Pratt and Bespoke Plastic Surgery are exclusively an aesthetic surgery practice dedicated to surgery of the breast, body, and face.

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