Weight loss, either through bariatric surgery or diet and exercise, is truly a life changing event. You look and feel better. You are healthier. You are engaging in activities that you were never able to before. While most of the changes that accompany weight loss are positive, unfortunately, loose skin is a concern for many patients. Hanging skin can affect both comfort and self confidence, and can be a daily reminder of past obesity.
Predicting who is going to have problems with hanging skin after weight loss is hard to determine, but a majority of patients undergoing weight loss will have some complaints. How your body looks after weight loss is directly related to the elasticity of your skin. In general, skin in regions of your body that are most stretched from the weight gain tend to be less elastic. Elasticity also decreases with age, sun exposure, and cigarette smoking, and is affected by genetic factors.
Almost all parts of the body can be affected by loose skin after weight loss. The most common area that people are concerned with is the belly. An overhanging apron, called a “pannus,” can cause a fold of skin on the front of the abdomen. In addition to preventing clothes from fitting well, a pannus can cause symptoms of rash and skin irritation. These symptoms tend to be worse in hot weather. An extremely large and heavy pannus can interfere with exercise and even normal activities, as well as cause problems with lower back pain.
While the belly is definitely the hot spot for problems with hanging skin, rashes and irritation can occur in folds of skin under the breasts, and on the thighs and back. Excess skin on the upper arms can be bothersome to many patients. Skin rashes are less common in this area, but the hanging skin may cause discomfort during physical activity and embarrassment, especially in young women.
Plastic surgery can help with hanging skin problems after dramatic weight loss, but are you willing to make a trade? There is one simple rule of body contouring surgery: you can’t take away excess skin without having a scar. Scars tend to fade with time, but they will always be there. In most procedures, the scars are hidden in places that are covered by clothes, such as along the waistline. In some procedures, such as arm lift (brachioplasty), the scars can be visible. Your plastic surgeon can inform you of all of the options that are right for you.
If you live in the Las Vegas area and are considering weight-loss surgery, schedule an appointment with Dr. Shawn Tsuda. He and his expert team can explain all of the procedures that could be right for you.