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Reconstructive Surgery After Weight Loss

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After losing a significant amount of weight, many people deal with loose, heavy folds of skin. The physicians at Einstein's Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery are highly experienced in performing reconstructive surgery procedures for firmer, smoother contours.

How Does Reconstructive Surgery After Weight Loss Work?

  • During a panniculectomy, the surgeon removes excess skin and fat of the pannus, the lower stomach area that hangs below the belt line, before pulling the remaining skin tight and suturing it together.
  • In a neck lift, the surgeon will tighten excess skin from the neck to diminish wrinkling and sagging. Some fat may be removed and underlying muscles and connective tissue will be tightened.
  • During a mons lift, the surgeon will make an incision, remove extra skin and try to leave a scar just above the pubic area, where a C-section incision is normally located. Liposuction is usually performed to thin the fatty layer, and the surgeon will use a drain to reduce swelling and discomfort and speed recovery. 
  • In a brachioplasty, or arm lift, the surgeon will firm and reshape the upper arm from the elbow to the shoulder by removing sagging skin and fat.
  • During a lower body or thigh lift, your surgeon can tighten loose sagging skin in the abdomen, buttocks, posterior thighs, hips, outer thighs and anterior thighs. 

What Can I Expect During and After the Procedure?

Your physician will provide you with detailed information about your procedure, but in general:

For a panniculectomy:

  • You will be under general anesthesia, so you won't feel pain during the surgery.
  • The procedure takes three to four hours, and you'll have to stay at the hospital at least one night.
  • The surgeon will make a horizontal incision from hip to hip and a vertical incision from the sternum to pubic area before removing fat and skin and suturing the remaining skin.
  • During the first few days, you'll likely experience some pain, swelling and bruising, for which your doctor will prescribe medication.
  • Initially, you will need to sponge bathe and wear a support garment; avoid strenuous activity for a few weeks; and take a couple of weeks off from work. Stitches are generally removed in about a week, and scarring will fade over time.

For a traditional neck lift:

  • You will be under intravenous sedation or general anesthesia.
  • The surgeon will make an incision in the hairline at the level of the side burn and then down and around the ear.
  • Fat may be sculpted or redistributed from the jowls and neck, tissue underlying the neck skin will be repositioned, and the platysma muscle will be tightened.
  • The surgeon will re-drape skin over the uplifted contours and trim away excess.
  • A separate incision under the chin is often necessary for liposuction of this area and for repair of the muscle.
  • A bandage around your face and neck will minimize swelling and bruising as well as a thin tube to drain any excess blood or fluid.
  • You will be given specific instructions about how to care for the surgical site, medications to apply or take and when to follow up with your plastic surgeon.
  • Keep your head elevated above your heart to minimize swelling.

For a limited neck lift:

  • You will be under intravenous sedation or general anesthesia.
  • The surgeon will just make incisions around the ear. Sutures may be dissolving, or may need to be removed after a few days. 
  • Fat may be sculpted or redistributed from the jowls and neck, tissue underlying the neck skin will be repositioned, and the platysma muscle will be tightened.
  • A bandage around your face and neck will minimize swelling and bruising as well as a thin tube to drain any excess blood or fluid.
  • You will be given specific instructions about how to care for the surgical site, medications to apply or take and when to follow up with your plastic surgeon.
  • Keep your head elevated above your heart to minimize swelling.

For a mons lift:

  • You'll be under a sedation or anesthesia so you won't feel pain.
  • You'll need to wear a supportive panty for about three weeks after the procedure, and the area will ache for a few days.
  • Patients should take at least a few days off from work and avoid strenuous activity for two to three weeks.

For a brachioplasty or minimal arm lift:

  • If you're undergoing a minimal incision arm lift, the surgeon will make a small incision near the armpit and perform liposuction to remove excess fat. For a regular brachioplasty, the surgeon will make a longer incision that stretches from the elbow past the armpit, perform liposuction, and remove and tighten excess skin.
  • You may receive local anesthesia and sedation or general anesthesia, and the procedure lasts one to three hours.
  • You will have a drainage tube for each arm, removed in about a week.
  • Some swelling is normal and will subside over a week or two, and pain is usually minimal. Ask your surgeon how long to refrain from exercise and if you'll need to wear a compression garment.

For a lower body or thigh lift:

  • The surgeon will make incisions from the back around to the front of thighs to allow excess skin and fat tissue to be removed. The surgeon will use remaining tissue to stretch and smooth the lower body.
  • This can be an outpatient procedure.
  • You will have some pain, easily controlled with medications.
  • You will need to wear a compression garment for a few weeks after the surgery, and your surgeon may recommend that you follow a special diet.
  • You'll also need to take at least two weeks off of work, restrict normal activity for four to six weeks and avoid exercise for six to eight weeks.
  • Scarring will be permanent but will fade over time.

Questions? Call Us:

1.800.346.7834

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