Major weight loss is a great thing. Studies from around the world continue to emphasize that excess body weight is bad for our health and bad for our quality of life, so losing weight is the top priority. Most people feel better, live longer, and enjoy life more after major weight loss. But that does not mean there are not some side effects. If you’re interested in learning how to resolve loose abdominal skin after major weight loss, here’s what to understand.
The Variable of Loose Abdominal Skin
Loose abdominal skin can be a minor nuisance, or it can be both a major inconvenience and a source of discomfort after major weight loss. Every body type is a bit different, so it is often hard to predict how much loose skin someone will have, and how bothersome it will be. Planning for it is a good thought, but it is also very hard to predict how much weight a person will lose and where exactly they will lose it. Classically, many males gain and lose their weight right around the mid-abdomen. Subsequently, if a male loses over 100 pounds, there is a good chance there will be some significant loose abdominal skin. Females may have similar or very different patterns of weight loss.
Youth has a nice way of creating more elasticity within the skin and tissues. That means the skin can naturally rebound even after major weight loss, and no skin removal is needed. The overall number of pounds lost can sometimes help predict the amount of excess skin. It is important to remember that you should try to lose all the pounds you can, generally speaking, and not let concerns about excess skin interfere with your path toward major weight loss and health improvement. Metabolic surgery can provide a new lease on life, so don’t sabotage your own efforts by worrying there will be too much loose skin.
Solutions for Excess Abdominal Skin
But what to do if you are now facing a whole lot of excess skin after major weight loss? When a large amount of excess skin forms around the abdominal midsection, we refer to this as the abdominal pannus. Most of the time the only true solution is surgical removal of the excess skin with the surgery usually being referred to as any panniculectomy. Tightening the deeper muscles is often described as abdominoplasty. Most of the techniques share a lot in common and aim to resolve the discomfort, irritation, rubbing, sense of pulling, and other bothersome features of the excess skin. When I perform this procedure, it is done with long incisions that go all the way around to the flanks, above the hips and all the excess skin and soft tissue is removed. The deeper muscles are tightened, the belly button is re-implanted, and the skin and tissues of the upper thighs and mons/labia area are pulled up to reconnect to the abdominal skin which is pulled down. People usually stay overnight in the hospital and go home with some surgical drain tubes.
There are variations of this surgery that some people prefer. One version involves a circumferential incision all the way around the body. In this type of procedure, the scar does not stop at the lateral flank or hip area but continues all the way around the back full three hundred sixty degrees. A whole section of excess skin like a doughnut from the front, sides, and back is removed and the same sort of tightening occurs. Other surgeons will add liposuction to remove some of the excess fat around the flanks or other areas. Similar surgical removal of excess skin can be performed around the thighs and upper arms with long vertical incisions.
With smaller areas of excess skin, a person could consider one of the newer emerging technologies to tighten the soft tissues, namely cool sculpting or laser that some people refer to as hot sculpting. The hot sculpting appears to work a bit better and causes fat cells to break apart and dissolve, tightening the skin and soft tissues in the area. This can be a nice adjunct or replacement for surgery in a few cases. It can work nicely around the “love handles” or flanks, under the chin or under the arms if the loose skin is not too excessive.
All the procedures described here are generally not going to be covered by regular health insurance, so be prepared to pay out-of-pocket and negotiate. In some cases, people will start saving right from the beginning at the time of their metabolic surgery, and then 12 or 18 months later be ready to proceed with the tummy tuck. Many times, it is a very gratifying final step in the journey. Be prepared for several weeks of recovery time and several months for complete healing. As with any surgery or other healthcare decision, compare reviews and do your research. Many people tell me it was among the most gratifying parts of the journey to be finally rid of the excess loose skin.
If you’ like to learn more about your options for resolving loose abdominal skin after major weight loss, contact the Sasse Surgical team today.