Bariatric Reconstructive Surgery

Surgeons perform roughly 100,000 bariatric procedures each year in the United States. Following weight loss surgery, however, some patients find the success of the procedure brings about rapid weight loss that causes excess skin to hang loosely around their body.

This excess skin can keep you from reaching your weight loss goal and cause additional health concerns. That’s why 21 percent of bariatric surgery patients undergo at least one kind of bariatric reconstruction procedure after bariatric surgery.

Not sure if bariatric reconstruction is right for you? Let’s take a look at how reconstruction procedures can move you along your weight loss journey towards a healthier, fuller life.

What is bariatric reconstructive surgery?

When people gradually lose weight over a long period of time, it’s easier for their skin’s elasticity to snap into place and shrink back down as fat is lost. When a person loses a significant amount of weight over a much shorter period of time — like the weeks and months after bariatric surgery — the skin’s elasticity doesn't have time to catch up.

Bariatric reconstruction surgery is a combination of several surgeries that remove the excess skin and fat remaining after dramatic weight loss. It often combines reconstructive and cosmetic techniques to tighten, lift and contour sagging areas for a more proportionate appearance.

What are the benefits of bariatric reconstructive surgery?

Although it’s an effective strategy for long-term weight control, weight loss from bariatric surgery is more likely to be more lasting if it’s followed by body contouring.

While it’s not required, patients who have bariatric reconstruction surgery are more likely to keep weight off after gastric bypass. In fact, patients routinely lose another 10 to 15 pounds of loose skin alone after a contouring surgery.

The Journal of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery produced a report after following 102 patients who’d lost about 100 pounds after weight-loss surgery. Seven years after gastric bypass, patients who underwent body contouring surgery achieved an average weight of 176 pounds. Those with bariatric surgery alone had an average body weight of 200 pounds.

Patients who underwent body contouring had regained about four percent of their initial body weight, compared to 11 percent for those who had gastric bypass only.

Additionally, patients who choose not to pursue bariatric reconstruction can experience hygiene problems. Excess skin can lead to rashes, painful chafing, sores and other dermal complications.

What are the types of bariatric reconstructive surgery?

Because everybody reacts differently to bariatric surgery, there are a variety of different skin reconstruction surgeries that patients can choose from. These procedures include:

  • Abdominoplasty. Also known as a tummy tuck, abdominoplasty removes excess skin from the middle and lower abdomen and tightens the muscles of the abdominal wall. There are two options for abdominoplasty. A full tummy tuck, which includes two larger incisions, provides complete sculpting. A mini tummy tuck, on the other hand, features one smaller incision and targets the zone below the belly.
  • Panniculectomy. If the excess skin hangs down to the thighs like an apron, it is referred to as a ‘pannus’. This skin can be removed and tightened but is more involved than an abdominoplasty, and is unique to weight loss surgery patients.
  • Mastopexy. This raises and reshapes sagging breasts. There are three types of mastopexies. There’s the crescent lift (intended to remedy minimal sagging), donut lift (recommended for moderate sagging and smaller breasts) and full mastopexy (recommended for excessive sagging).
  • Lower body lift. As its name suggests, a lower body lift removes excess skin from the lower body: abdomen, hips, thighs and buttocks. Doctors make an incision near the waist that stretches around the body, serving as the opening to extract skin and fat. Because it’s quite extensive, many patients choose to complete their lower body lift in stages.
  • Brachioplasty. Also known as an arm lift, a brachioplasty removes loose skin in the upper arm. Surgeons make incisions on the inside or back of the arm and liposuction is commonly performed to remove extra fat.
  • Mammaplasty. Often referred to as a breast reduction, mammaplasty removes fat, glandular tissue and skin from the breasts. This procedure makes the breasts smaller, lighter and firmer. There are two approaches to a mammaplasty: aside from the traditional reduction, some experts recommend a vertical mammaplasty for women with moderately large breasts (as opposed to those of excessive size).
  • Liposuction. Performed alone or in conjunction with one of these other surgeries, liposuction helps sculpt the body by removing unwanted fat from specific body areas.
  • Thighplasty. This procedure, commonly called as a thigh lift, removes excess skin from the inner and outer thighs. Since there are several approaches to a thighplasty, most doctors will thoroughly consult with you to understand the specific area you seek to address and determine the technique that will provide the best results.

Take the next step with your weight loss journey.

If you’re dealing with unwanted skin from bariatric surgery, you aren’t alone. Barix Clinics can help remove your excess skin with one of our experienced reconstructive surgeons who specializes in weight loss surgery patients.. To learn more, contact us today.

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