Reviewed by Miguel A. Delgado, Jr., M.D.
Whether you’ve had or are considering gastric bypass, Lap Band, or gastric sleeve surgery, you probably want to know if you’ll need liposuction after surgery. And if so, what liposuction procedures will you need? Any time you lose a lot of weight in a short amount of time, there is a risk of sagging skin. While you’ll lose a lot of fat throughout your body, some areas of the body are especially good at retaining fat. Typically, the pannis (the area just below your belly), upper arms, breasts, and the groin and buttocks area tend to sag more than other areas after weight loss surgery.
Its important to note that every individual is different and each procedure may result in more or less skin sagging and retained fat cells.
Skin Tone After Surgery
Paramount to a cosmetic result with liposuction alone is your skin tone (elasticity of the skin). Younger patients typically have better skin tone. Their skin often snaps back and doesn’t remain stretched out. Without good skin tone, liposuction alone will not produce the result most people desire. While this article focuses on liposuction, prepare for excisional procedures as well. This is when a large amount of skin is removed. These are done in conjunction with liposuction.
Lipo After Gastric Bypass Surgery
Gastric bypass produces the quickest and most dramatic weight loss. This can lead to more noticeable sagging. And once you’ve achieved your target weight, it may be time to consider liposuction and/or an excisional procedure.
Lipo After Lap Band Surgery
Lap Band surgery produces a slower result and often less weight loss than gastric bypass. You may notice less sagging. While exercise can mitigate some of the sagging and help reduce excess fat it usually does not eliminate the risk of sagging. Ask your plastic surgeon if he recommends loosening your band until after you recover from surgery. And consult with your bariatric surgeon.
Lipo After Gastric Sleeve Surgery
Gastric sleeve surgery also produces dramatic results. While the weight loss is not as quick as gastric bypass surgery, you’ll definitely lose weight – often over 100 lbs in less than a year. Diet and exercise will help contour your body but liposuction with or without skin excision may still be necessary to get the cosmetic result you desire.
The goal of weight loss surgery is not cosmetic, it’s a life-saving procedure and not without risk. But now that you’ve changed your life, have lost weight and are healthier, its ok to be concerned about your appearance. The procedures below are typical procedures that post weight loss surgery patients consider. Its recommended that you wait at least one year after surgery to ensure that you’ve reached your target weight and are able to maintain that weight. And of course, discuss this with your bariatric surgeon and a qualified plastic surgeon.
Panniculectomy And Or Abdominoplasty With Lipo
This is commonly known as a Tummy Tuck and is often a requirement for patients who have lost large amounts of weight from their midsection. Your surgeon will make an incision from hipbone to hipbone. The surgeon will then remove excess skin and tighten stomach muscles if needed. Often liposuction is performed at the same time to remove excess fat deposits. Your surgeon may reset your belly button during the procedure and then recreate the belly button. Occasionally, a partial or mini-abdominoplasty is done. During this they remove excess fat and tissue below the belly button and leave the belly button intact.
The results from this procedure are often dramatic. Although, recovery can be slow and painful.
Breast Augmentation or Lift –
Breasts are made up of breast and fat tissue. When you lose a lot of fat or after multiple pregnancies, the excess skin is prone to sagging. This produces a poor cosmetic effect where the nipples point down and the breasts look deflated. A breast lift can be as simple as removing extra skin to tighten and raise the breasts. However, many patients opt to have a lift and implants to produce a better cosmetic result. This procedure often restores confidence and many women reportedly feel sexier after breast augmentation.
Upper Arm Lift –
The upper arms are prone to sagging. Typically, overweight individuals do not have a lot of muscle mass in the upper arms and as they lose fat tissue, the excess skin does not bounce back. This leads to sagging upper arms. Liposuction is often used in combination with an arm lift. The surgeon will remove excess skin and likely use liposuction to contour the area for a cosmetic effect. This is a relatively simple surgery that allows women to wear sleeveless blouses comfortably. The arm lift scar is placed of the inside of the arm. The scar is permanent and will be obvious when the arm is raised
Lower Body Lift –
This procedure tightens tightens loose, sagging skin in the buttocks, posterior thighs, hips, outer thighs, and anterior thighs. The surgery requires incisions in around the patient’s lower torso. These can typically be hidden by clothing. The surgeon will move around the patient, removing excess skin and fat with a combination of liposuction and skin excisions. The remaining skin is then lifted up and sutured tightly into place. This contours the lower body. While painful, the results can be dramatic when performed by an experienced plastic surgeon.
Plastic surgery should never replace a quality exercise routine combined with a healthy diet. However, weight loss surgery patients are in a unique situation where they have lost dramatic amounts of weight in a short amount of time. In combination with a healthy lifestyle, plastic surgery is often the only option to restore a cosmetic result. Remember to consult with both your bariatric surgeon and plastic surgeon before the procedure. Ask for referrals. Prepare for a slow recovery but have hope. Liposuction combined with body contouring does work. Set the proper expectations and continue to take care of yourself inside and out.