Body contouring is plastic surgery for loose skin and excess fat and usually involves a combination of liposuction and skin removal procedures to different parts of the body.
Plastic Surgery for Loose Skin
Patients who have lost a great deal of weight have done so with great commitment and effort. Once fat is lost loose skin tightens around the new, thinner body. Sometimes the skin does not retract adequately, leaving loose skin around the face, neck, breast, arms, abdomen and thighs. At times this loose skin is bothersome, and can interfere with the ability to exercise or wear nice clothes. These were often the goals when weight loss was committed to.
Some people also carry persistent weight in specific areas of their body that seem to be resistant to diet and exercise eg saddlebags, love handles and upper tummy rolls.
Body contouring surgery is an effective means of removing loose skin after weight loss or fat that is resistant to diet and exercise. Body contourings is only performed if you are stable at your goal body weight. It is important that you are nutritionally fit to tolerate the considerable duration of this surgery and its recovery period.
When multiple body areas need to be addressed, the treatment will be split into different operations so as to limit the duration of surgery and make your post-operative recovery easier.
A body lift or belt lipectomy is similar to an abdominoplasty in that the loose skin of the lower abdomen is trimmed into a wound that sits at the bikini line. In a body lift, the incision line is continued circumferentially around the back and above the buttocks, to gather the skin collecting at the muffin top and love handle areas. A lower body lift (belt lipectomy) is so named, because if pulls up the supportive tissues of the hips and buttocks and pulls down on the supportive tissues of the abdomen and back to remove loose skin from both the front and back of the torso.
Brachioplasty or arm lift involves gathering the loose skin that hangs down from the upper arms when they are held away from the body. These loose “wings” of skin can be very frustrating to patients. The scars extend from the armpit to the elbow at the inner aspect of the arm, so as to be hidden when the arms are held by the sides. The scars are long, and can be obvious, so surgery has to be carefully considered and expertly performed.
Thigh lift is in fact two procedures, as the inner thigh loose skin is addressed with a “medial thigh lift” and the outer thigh loose skin is addressed with an abdominoplasty or body lift. A medial thigh lift removes excess skin and fat from the inner thigh area using an incision that curves into the groin crease. A body lift helps reduce the skin of the outer thigh.
Breast lift or mastopexy reshapes and lifts the breast tissue, which is often droopy after weight loss. The procedure is described for women in the breast section of this website. Loose skin often needs to be removed from men’s chests after weight loss, and is performed differently in men, but can be an equally satisfying procedure.
The procedures described above are operations to improve the abdominal, arm and thigh contours, and not primarily to help weight loss.
During your consultation, our surgeons will listen to your concerns and goals. Any additional health problems that might affect your treatment will be identified. An examination of your body shape will follow. Clinical pictures and measurements will be used to help assess your shape.
We will then discuss the best course of action to address your loose skin concerns. Written information will be provided to you, so that you can consider your options. Surgery for body contouring is a big step, so a second consultation to discuss the advice you are given is recommended.
You can usually use your private health insurance for body contouring surgery if you have experienced a massive weight loss and are debilitated by your loose skin. It can pay for all your operating theatre and hospital costs, including the post operative stay. Medicare and your private insurance also contribute to the doctors’ bills. You can call your health fund and see if you are covered. The Medicare Benefits Schedule codes that are likely to be used are 30171, 30177, 30179 or similar.
Plastic surgery for loose skin may sound simple but it is real surgery, and should be performed with sophisticated surgical technique for the safest and best results. It carries real risks, and as such should be considered carefully.
We recommend that the procedure is only ever performed in an accredited hospital. We also recommend that you carefully consider your choice of surgeon. Unfortunately doctors without surgical qualifications beyond their medical degree are allowed to perform surgery. Your surgeon should be appropriately qualified with at least a Fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (FRACS), which means that they have specialist surgical training. FRACS is the standard qualification required in Australia to perform surgery in private and public hospitals.
Members of the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons have a FRACS and specialised training in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, including body contouring surgery.
Our surgeons, Dr Amira Sanki and Dr Ilias Kotronakis are fully qualified Plastic Surgeons. They have both received Honours degree in their Sydney medical schools. They both have FRACS qualifications as Specialist Surgeons in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, and are members of the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons. They both have extensive experience and training in surgery, including the most advanced and up to date techniques. They are committed to giving their patients the safest and best treatment available.
A consultation with a qualified Plastic Surgeon is the best place to get more advice. More information and videos on body contouring is available online at the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons website.
Plastic surgery, like any other surgical procedure, carries certain risks and potential complications. It is important for individuals considering plastic surgery to be aware of these risks before making a decision. Your plastic surgeon will explain the specific risks of your procedure and your risk profile in the context of your general health and the complexity of your procedure. Here are some of the common risks associated with plastic surgery:
1. Infection: Any surgical procedure has the risk of infection. Surgeons take precautions to minimise this risk, such as sterile operating environments and proper wound care, but infections can still occur.
2. Scarring: Scarring is an inherent risk of plastic surgery. While surgeons strive to minimise visible scarring, some procedures may result in more noticeable or keloid scars.
3. Pain and discomfort: Plastic surgery involves incisions and tissue manipulation, which can lead to post-operative pain and discomfort. The level of pain varies depending on the procedure and the individual’s pain tolerance.
4. Hematoma and seroma: Hematomas are collections of blood that can form under the skin after surgery, while seromas are collections of fluid. These fluid collections may require drainage.
5. Nerve damage: Nerves can be damaged during surgery, leading to temporary or permanent numbness, tingling, or loss of sensation in the affected area. Nerve damage can also cause muscle weakness or paralysis.
6. Blood clots: Surgical procedures carry a risk of blood clot formation, particularly in the legs. Blood clots can be serious if they travel to other parts of the body, causing complications like pulmonary embolism.
7. Anesthesia risks: Plastic surgery usually requires the use of anesthesia, which carries its own set of risks. These include adverse reactions to anesthesia, breathing difficulties, and, in rare cases, life-threatening complications.
8. Unsatisfactory results: Plastic surgery outcomes may not meet the patient’s expectations or desires. It’s important for individuals to have realistic expectations and to communicate clearly with their surgeon about their goals and desired outcomes.
9. Revision surgery: In some cases, additional surgery may be required to achieve the desired results or to correct any complications or unsatisfactory outcomes. This can increase the financial and emotional burden on the patient.
10. Psychological and emotional effects: Plastic surgery can have psychological and emotional impacts, both positive and negative. While many people experience improved self-esteem and body image after surgery, others may struggle with unrealistic expectations, body dysmorphia, or dissatisfaction with the results.
It’s crucial for individuals considering plastic surgery to consult with a qualified and experienced plastic surgeon who can thoroughly explain the risks and benefits specific to their desired procedure. Understanding and carefully weighing these risks against the potential benefits can help individuals make informed decisions about whether to proceed with plastic surgery.