Plastic Surgery Nashville
Statistics show that more than 60 percent of Americans are overweight, and approximately 33 percent of Americans are on a diet at any given time. These numbers present much more than a vanity issue, since being overweight increases a person’s risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke and many other life-threatening conditions. Whether you’ve noticed your waist size increasing with age or you haven’t gotten around to shedding the baby weight, there’s more to weight loss than counting calories.
The slimmer silhouette and boost in self-esteem that you enjoy after losing weight can often be accompanied by some unforeseen reminders of the extra pounds you carried in the past. From stretch marks and crepey skin to a significant amount of excess skin that can’t conform to the body’s new contours, these conditions are treatable with various noninvasive and surgical options. Just keep in mind that it is best to consider these post-slim-down solutions once weight loss has reached a plateau.
Losing even 20 pounds can result in slack skin. And aside from weight loss, aging and heredity can produce irregular contours as well. Body-contouring procedures smooth and tighten the skin and underlying tissues that have lost their elasticity and help them conform to the body’s actual shape. “Anyone who has gained or lost weight, carried a pregnancy full-term, or has weak abdominal muscles is a candidate for a tummy tuck,” explains Atlanta plastic surgeon, Amy Ortega, MD, who notes that a mini abdominoplasty offers more limited correction, removes less tissue and may involve less internal stitching. A mini tummy tuck entails removing skin and tissue from the lower abdomen and repairing the weak muscles on the inside without repositioning the belly button (which is generally required in a full abdominoplasty). Dr. Ortega notes that the rectus muscles are the ones that give the coveted six-pack look to the abdomen. “As the midsection gets bigger, those muscles get stretched and separated in the center,” a condition called rectus diastasis. In cases after childbirth, the muscles often are too spread apart to shape up, and must be surgically repaired. Even thinner women can benefit from this repair. “If they exercise afterwards, they really will see the benefits,” she notes.
“The most popular weight-loss surgery in the United States is gastric bypass,” says Dr. Nagle. This procedure limits the amount of food your stomach can hold and affects the body’s absorption of calories and nutrients. The Lap-Band is another option, but it affects the size of the stomach simply by the placement of an inflatable band around the stomach, without altering the digestive process. This band can be loosened or tightened as required to limit the size of the stomach pouch. Used worldwide for a number of years, it is the only FDA-approved weight-loss device available in the United States.
Since these procedures are minimally invasive thanks to advances in laparoscopic surgery, recovery generally is speedy. Gastric bypass still requires at least an overnight hospital stay, but the Lap-Band procedure can be performed on an outpatient basis. While these are reversible in theory, they rarely are because doing so will result in weight gain. Dr. Nagle stresses that, “Weight loss operations should not be viewed as a ‘quick fix’ but rather as a ‘tool.’ We know that a successful long-term outcome requires a life-long commitment to exercise and diet modification as well as a multidisciplinary team of healthcare providers to ensure careful follow-up.”
After losing large amounts of weight, the excess hanging skin that remains can be problematic. Severe cases of excess skin can also lead to rashes, irritation and physical discomfort. In these instances, bodylift surgery is the only recourse, essentially trimming the excess skin so it conforms to the body’s new contours. The key to any of these surgeries, says Dr. Ortega, is “not to take a cookie-cutter approach because no two people are the same, and we have many methods at our disposal.” The skin-reducing reconstruction surgeries must be custom designed for each patient.
Before considering body contouring after massive weight loss, patients should be at a stable weight for about six months, which depends on the surgical weight-loss procedure used. The procedures – usually performed in stages – can be limited to particular areas of the body, including the breast, arms, stomach, thighs and buttocks, or address multiple regions as with the circumferential bodylift, which can remove excess skin and fatty tissue from the middle and lower abdomen, hips, outer thighs, back and buttocks, as well as tighten the muscles of the abdomen wall in one or two stages.