Curve Appeal: Body Contouring After Weight Loss Surgery

Asaad H. Samra MD, FACS
Board Certified Plastic Surgeon
Chair, Department of Surgery
Bayshore Community Hopsital

You may feel healthier and more mobile after significant weight-loss, but your body shape may still feel like you want a finishing touch to finalize your transformation. Body contouring is a surgical procedure that aims to improve and/or regain body shape after weight-loss or pregnancy. 

Body Contouring Procedures

Tummy Tuck
In a tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, skin and fat of the lower abdomen is removed and abdominal muscles are tightened, which helps to improve the waistline.

Breast Lift
During a breast lift, the nipple and areola are "lifted" and the skin envelope is tightened to improve the shape/positioning of the breast and nipple. A breast lift can be done with or without implants, depending upon the need for breast volume.

Thigh or Arm Lift
In a thigh or arm lift, excess skin and fat is removed to improve the contour of the thigh or upper arm. Thigh/arm procedures can be done independently or in combination.

Five Things to do Before Surgery

Consult with a Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon
If you have loose and or sagging skin, then body contouring may be right for you. That said, it's best to have a consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon to discuss your options. During a consultation, your plastic surgeon will ask you about your weight-loss success and/or goals, as they will impact the decision of when to have surgery. He or she will also examine your area of concern and determine if body contouring surgery is right for you.

Maintain Your Goal Weight for at Least Six Months Prior to Surgery
Being at your ideal weight before body contouring will allow your surgeon to maximize your results, as any weight lost after the surgery can negatively affect the results.

Maintain Healthy Habits
It's important to be in good health before body contouring surgery, as weight-loss can negatively affect the protein stores that we have and that can adversely affect our healing potential. Eating right is very important.

Have Your Support System in Place
It is also important to make sure that you have a good support system in place during recovery, as most procedures have a two-to-three week recovery period. (A breast lift may be shorter, often 7 to 10 days.) Most people feel pretty "normal" at about three weeks after surgery. With that in mind, it may still take up to six weeks before you can get back to your exercise regimen as there is still a lot of healing happening up until (and beyond) that point.

Do Your Homework
When done on the "right" person in the "right" place, body contouring is safe. Patients need to be appropriately selected and surgeries performed in accredited facilities. Furthermore, the surgeon should have experience and expertise, which is why it is important to see a board-certified plastic surgeon. Barring some unexpected swings in body weight, the results of most body contouring procedures should last a lifetime.