Surgery After Weight Loss

Major weight loss—resulting from diet and exercise or weight loss surgery—can significantly improve your health and self-confidence. After losing a large amount of weight, many are left with excess skin and fat in the abdomen, arms, thighs, buttocks, breasts and face. Because the skin was stretched for a long period of time, it starts to sag and may have lost some elasticity.

Is a Circumferential Body Lift Right for Me?

Surgery after weight loss (Circumferential Body Lift Surgery) is performed to reduce, enlarge or lift specific areas of the body. For the best results, surgery should not be undertaken until weight has stabilized, and at least one to two years after the occurrence of significant weight loss. The success of this procedure depends largely on age, and size, shape and tone of the treatment area. Surgery after weight loss offers long-term results and can allow patients to enjoy greater self-confidence.

Good candidates for surgery after weight loss are individuals who:

  • Have reached a stabilized weight after loss
  • Are healthy, with no underlying medical conditions or illness which may impair healing
  • Are non-smokers
  • Have a positive outlook and realistic expectations for surgical improvement
  • Are committed to leading a healthy lifestyle, including proper nutrition

How Surgery After Weight Loss is Performed

Dr. Dawes usually performs surgery after weight loss in stages, with a combination of surgeries completed at each stage. A tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) involves removing excess skin and tightening the underlying abdominal muscles. A variety of breast procedures are available to augment or reduce the size of the breasts. Thighs and buttocks may need to be surgically lifted. Excess skin may be removed from the face and neck in a procedure that is similar to a traditional facelift. An arm lift may also be performed to remove excess skin from the arms. Dr. Dawes will start with the areas most concerning to you. Although some procedures can be combined, two or three surgical appointments are often required to achieve optimal results. These surgical procedures are typically performed under general anesthesia.

Recovery Expectations

The recovery period is about two to four weeks. Most patients experience swelling, soreness and bruising for two to three weeks after surgery. You may be asked to wear compression garments during the recovery period to compress the skin, and reduce swelling and fluid retention.

Contour improvements are visible almost immediately, though final results may take up to one or two years to fully develop as swelling subsides and tissue heals. Visible scars may remain. While still subject to the aging process, the results of surgery after weight loss can be long lasting, assuming a stable weight and general fitness are maintained.

Surgery After Weight Loss FAQs

What will my recovery be like?
You can expect moderate discomfort and tightness in your abdominal area, hips, buttocks and back, which should gradually improve over about 1 week. Over this time, your ability to stand up straight will also improve. Swelling usually subsides after three weeks, but can occasionally persist longer. Bruising will likely occur. It will be the worst 3-4 days after and persist up to three weeks.
What is a surgical drain?
After a surgery, fluid may collect inside your body in the surgical area. This makes an infection or other problems more likely. A surgical drain allows the fluid to flow out. You will have four drains following the circumferential body lift surgery. 
When can I return to regular activity?
You must avoid strenuous exercise for 6 weeks and avoid lifting anything heavier than 10 pounds for 6 weeks. If your job keeps you sedentary, you may plan on returning to work in 14 days, with the understanding that you may still have discomfort with motion.

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“My role, in part, is to assist patients through the process of determining which surgical or non-surgical options would help them meet their aesthetic goals and realistic expectations”

Jeffrey C. Dawes MD, FRSC

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