Losing a significant amount of weight is an exciting achievement that often brings people pride, energy, and increased self-confidence. People who’ve lost weight tell us they finally enjoy physical activities, are more active with their kids, and may see exciting health improvements. However, there can also be some challenges that come with a notable amount of weight loss. One of these challenges is excess skin. Our patients ask us if there is anything they can do about excess skin removal after weight loss - and the answer is yes. Today we’ll introduce you to a procedure called a lower body lift, that can be an excellent solution for people looking for excess skin removal.
What is a lower body lift?
A lower body lift is a surgical procedure that removes excess skin from the abdomen, butt, and thigh areas. In addition, a lower body lift can include tightening of the muscles - especially for women who have been pregnant. Finally, we lift the remaining skin to create a tighter, smoother silhouette. It is very normal to have excess skin after weight loss, and a lower body lift after weight loss is the only way to fix the issue of substantial sagging or hanging skin.
What are the downsides to having excess skin after weight loss?
There are many advantages to losing weight. But for some people, one side effect to deal with is excess skin. There are several reasons excess skin can be a problem:
- Cosmetic. There can be significant cosmetic issues with excess skin for people who have lost a lot of weight. Some patients tell us they are disappointed that after losing weight, they feel unable to wear a bathing suit or smaller summer clothing, because their excess skin makes them self-conscious. No matter how they lost the weight, they worked hard and were committed to a journey towards better health. But they feel as though their physical appearance is holding them back from feeling the pride they have earned. Others are frustrated that they cannot fit into the size of clothing that seems appropriate for their body, because their excess skin gets in the way of their outfits.
- Discomfort. Excess skin can be uncomfortable. These layers of skin can form areas where sweat gets trapped. This can lead to itching, chafing and rashes. Discomfort and the weight of pounds of hanging skin, can get in the way of exercising as well. This is not only frustrating, but can slow down the weight loss or strength-building process.
The patients we see usually have a combination of cosmetic and functional reasons that they are interested in a lower body lift to remove their excess skin after weight loss.
What are the benefits of having a lower body lift after weight loss?
There are often both functional and cosmetic benefits to having a lower body lift after losing a significant amount of weight. Functionally, patients tell us they are much more comfortable and find exercising easier. They generally do not suffer the same rashes and chafing that they did before their excess skin was removed. From a cosmetic standpoint, patients say they feel that a lower body lift finally allows them to see the body they’ve been working so hard for. They are able to wear fitted, flattering outfits, and feel good about themselves with or without clothing on.
Who is a candidate for a lower body lift?
Primary candidates for a lower body lift are people who have lost a significant amount of weight and now have loose, excess skin. Candidates should be at a weight they are comfortable with, and ideally have maintained that weight level for at least 6 months. If you still want to lose more weight, it is best to wait until you are at a weight you are happy with. If you lose a lot more weight after a lower body lift, your results can be compromised. Overall, candidates should be in good health and non-smokers.
What parts of the body can have excess skin after weight loss?
Everyone’s body is different, and each person’s body responds to weight loss in a different way. As a result, there are a variety of places you may have excess skin. These places include:
- Upper arms
The most common areas for excess skin complaints are the abdomen, butt, and thighs. This is why we offer a lower body lift for patients who want to tighten and remove excess skin from these areas.
Can I use skin-tightening creams instead of having a body lift?
You’ve likely seen advertisements for creams or do-it-yourself wraps that will supposedly tighten your skin. These products are not able to make a significant difference in the appearance or elasticity of your skin. A small amount of skin tightening can sometimes be achieved with non-invasive ultrasound or laser procedures, but any substantial tightening of skin can only be achieved through surgery like a lower body lift.
What factors affect whether I will have excess skin?
There is no way to know for sure if you will have excess skin after you lose weight. Some people are pleasantly surprised to find their skin elasticity is stronger than they expected, and they have little excess skin. However, most people will find that they have varying degrees of excess skin after weight loss. Common factors that can affect your amount of excess skin include:
- How much weight you lost
- How quickly you lost weight
- The elasticity of your skin before you lost weight
- Sun exposure
- Whether you smoke
What is recovery like after a lower body lift?
A lower body lift to remove excess skin after weight loss is a fairly involved operation. Often we are not only removing skin, but lifting the remaining skin, and sometimes tightening the abdominal muscles as well. Patients regularly need 2 weeks of recovery after a lower body lift, before returning to work. For people who have physical jobs, it may be more realistic to expect 4 weeks of recovery before returning to work. Remember - you’ll also want to plan to avoid physical activities at home including lift your kids, reaching into high cabinets, or picking up heavy items.
The incision from a lower body lift is relatively large, so we want to make sure you have adequate recovery time to take care of your incision, rest to promote healing, and eat well.
Will I have a scar after a lower body lift?
Yes, a lower body lift to remove excess skin will always leave a scar. We need to make a long incision to remove an amount of skin that will leave you with a tighter, smoother body shape. When you come in for a consultation, we will show you where you can expect scarring. Scars generally fade with time, and most patients find the scar is minimal compared to the benefit they see after the removal of excess skin. Your skin tone, genetics, and sun exposure can affect how visible your scar will be after healing.
If you have excess skin because you lost a lot of weight, a lower body lift can give you the contour and body shape you’re hoping for. We are happy to answer your questions, so please get in touch with us if you are interested in learning how this procedure may fit with your goals.