As part of your weight loss journey, you may experience changes to your body after bariatric surgery. You may notice:
- Extra, loose, or sagging skin in common areas such as the abdomen, thighs, arms, face/neck, back, breasts/chest
- Development of rashes and moisture under these extra folds of skin
- Deflation of breasts/chest area
This extra skin can often make exercising or fitting into clothes difficult. You may also become self-conscious of the extra skin after losing a significant amount of weight. We encourage you to consult with a plastic surgeon to learn what options you have to remove this excess skin and improve the contour of your new body after weight loss.
Tips from a plastic surgeon
Joanna Ng-Glazier, MD, of Emerson Plastic Surgery Associates offers the following advice to people considering their surgical options after experiencing significant weight loss.
Not all procedures are covered by insurance. You may want to ask your carrier what is covered and what is not, and what supporting information will be helpful to have a surgery covered. Most of the time, removal of skin from the abdomen — called a panniculectomy — can be covered with the right supporting documents (for example, evidence of a rash or open sores).
Supporting evidence may include proof of treatment through topical antifungal creams or pills or photographic documentation of the sores and rashes. Insurance companies may also request letters from other physicians. In addition, in order to qualify for coverage your insurance may require that a certain amount of time has passed after your bariatric surgery (for example, 12-24 months) and/or that your weight be stable for a particular amount of time (for example, 6-12 months).
Often, surgery to contour the arms, thighs, breasts, and face are not covered by insurance. Sometimes the abdomen is not covered either. You may want to start to budget for these potential procedures if you are interested in pursuing surgery after weight loss.
Make a Plan for Yourself
To help plan for the future, Dr. Ng-Glazier recommends making a “wish list” by prioritizing which procedures are most important to you to have, if at all. It can be helpful to look at plastic surgery experiences other bariatric patients have had, but know that their outcomes are not necessarily your outcomes. Remember: every person’s journey and results are unique.
This wish list and having an idea of intended outcomes will facilitate a good discussion with your surgeon. When you meet them, come prepared with questions about your body.
Before and after surgery, we will continue to work with your bariatric surgeon and dietitian to ensure that your bloodwork, hydration, vitamin intake, and protein needs are being met. These are important for healing after body-contouring surgery. You may require certain tests before being cleared for surgery.
Typically, you will not have your body-contouring surgery until one to two years after your bariatric surgery. If you are interested in pursuing multiple surgeries, you will also need time to heal in between procedures.
Outcomes are best when you are at your most stable weight. Before pursuing body-contouring procedures, make sure you are comfortable with maintaining your weight prior to surgery and during the recovery phase.
Dr. Joanna Ng-Glazier is a plastic surgeon at Emerson Hospital and is committed to helping patients complete their weight loss journey. She is accepting new patients and welcomes all insurance carriers. Call 978-371-5380 to learn more about your options today!