Body Contouring after Bariatric Surgery

Q :  I had gastric bypass surgery about six months ago and have already lost 65 lbs. At the pace I am going, I will reach my goal of 100 lbs within one year after surgery. While the weight loss is fantastic, the amount of loose hanging skin that has developed is disgusting. I want to get this loose skin removed as soon as I can. How soon once I reach my weight loss goal can I have plastic surgery?

A: It is understandable that most extreme weight loss patients want to enjoy the benefits from their efforts as soon as possible. While the weight loss is the first step, most patients will require some skin removal through a second stage body contouring surgery to really see the body that they had hoped for.

Despite the enthusiasm of pressing forward as soon as possible, it is important to wait until some point after you have reached your weight loss goal. Your body needs time to recover and adjust to the new weight. This also allows you to learn new eating habits that will help keep the weight off but also have you become more nutritionally sound.

Body contouring surgery places major stress on one’s body and requires a lot of nutrients and energy to heal properly. You also want your immune function to be functioning as best as possible. In short, you don’t want to be malnourished going into major surgery. It has been that many post-bariatric surgery patients have protein-calorie malnutrition as well as various vitamins and mineral deficiencies.

While there is no standard waiting period after bariatric surgery, it is best that one have a stable weight for at least three months before considering elective body contouring surgery. Patients who have had gastric bypass, due to intestinal absorption changes, aren’t usually ready for body contouring surgery for six months or more afterwards. Lapband patients lose weight at a much slower rate and it may be much longer than a year after their procedure before they are ready. Extreme weight loss patients who have done it on their own without surgery can be done sooner because their intestinal absorption of nutrients has not been altered.

Dr. Barry Eppley