Excess skin removal procedures help people who lose a lot of weight through bariatric surgery (weight loss surgery) or lifestyle changes. Plastic (cosmetic) surgeries, such as panniculectomy, tummy tucks and arm lifts (brachioplasty), can get rid of sagging, excess skin to improve appearance, comfort and clothing fit.
Various plastic (cosmetic) surgery procedures to remove excess skin. Surgery can reshape your body. You may need body contouring after a significant weight loss (typically 100 pounds or more).
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People with obesity may lose weight with bariatric (weight loss) surgery or diet and exercise. Significant weight loss can leave you with excess, sagging skin.
When you carry extra weight, skin and tissue stretch to accommodate the body’s larger size. This stretching causes skin and tissue to lose elasticity. When you lose weight, the stretched skin can’t conform to your new shape and may be saggy and hang loosely from your body.
Having excess skin may affect your self-confidence. It can be hard to find clothing that fits well. Heavy skin can be painful. Skin folds can also increase your risk of skin infections, skin fungus and skin rashes.
Plastic surgeons (sometimes called cosmetic surgeons) perform excess skin removal procedures. Your doctor will conduct a physical exam and other assessments to determine if surgery is right for you.
In general, you may be a good candidate for excess skin removal surgery if you:
There are several different procedures for removing excess skin. Most people need a combination of surgeries to get the look they seek. Your doctor can help determine which procedures will benefit you the most.
Excess skin removal procedures include:
Follow your doctor’s recommendations when preparing for surgery. You may need to:
Depending on the procedures, you may have surgery at a hospital and stay overnight. Or the procedure may take place at a surgical facility, and you’ll go home the same day (outpatient procedure).
Excess skin removal often takes place in stages. You may need multiple surgeries. Certain procedures, such as a lower body lift or a panniculectomy combined with a tummy tuck, can occur during the same surgical appointment.
No. Excess skin removal surgeries can only take place after bariatric (weight loss) surgery. A plastic surgeon can’t remove the excess skin until you lose the extra weight. It may take one to two years to achieve your goal weight after bariatric surgery. You also need to maintain that weight loss for at least six months before getting body contouring procedures.
Also, two different types of surgeons perform these procedures:
You may have heard that you can have liposuction and body contouring, such as a tummy tuck, at the same time. Liposuction can help remove stubborn fat deposits, but it isn’t a weight loss surgery. Your surgeon can discuss if a combined procedure is right for you.
Yes, you will have scars from the incisions. When possible, your doctor will make incisions in your hairline, a natural crease or covered areas that are less noticeable. For instance, doctors make panniculectomy or tummy tuck incisions in the pubic region or bikini line.
Excess skin removal procedures are major surgeries. You can expect to have pain for a few weeks. Your healthcare provider will prescribe pain medicine and offer tips to ease discomfort.
You may have more pain when moving around, climbing stairs or getting off the couch. It may help have a loved one or other support person stay with you during the first week of recovery.
It’s important to have realistic expectations before you get body contouring procedures. Plastic surgery can improve appearance, but it can’t give you a perfect body shape. It also can’t help you lose more weight beyond the weight of the skin your surgeon removes.
All surgeries have risks. Potential risks of body contouring procedures include:
How you’ll feel during recovery — and when you can resume activities — depends on the procedures. A full recovery can take several months.
After surgery, you may:
Your body needs time to heal between procedures and after the final surgery. It may take up to two years to achieve final results from body contouring.
The long-term effects of body contouring surgery partly depend on your ability to keep the weight off.
Everyone experiences weight fluctuations throughout life. But if you regain a substantial amount of weight after body contour surgeries, your skin will stretch. If you re-lose those pounds, the skin will sag again.
You should call your healthcare provider if you experience:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
When you experience significant weight loss, it’s understandable to want your body to look a certain way. Excess skin can also be painful. If you’re bothered by sagging skin after weight loss, you can talk to a healthcare provider about body contour procedures. These procedures can remove excess skin and fat. They also tighten tissue to give skin a firmer, smoother look. You may need several body contour procedures to remove excess skin and get the look you seek. A plastic surgeon can determine the best body contour procedures for you.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 11/01/2021.
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