Losing a lot of weight is something to celebrate. Seriously, congratulations! Strut your stuff, and by all means, treat yourself no a new wardrobe. But let’s face it — you have come to this page for a reason. While skin snaps back in some folks, often times, it retains it memory and that extra baggage can be as troublesome as the extra weight. After any substantial amount of weight loss, whether from weight loss surgery or lifestyle changes, the skin and tissues often lack the elasticity to conform to your new, reduced body size. We call this “massive weight loss”. That excess, sagging skin often makes the it difficult to truly enjoy the benefits of your new body. At the Zelken Institute for Aesthetic Medicine, we have years of experience helping men and women attain a more ideal appearance and shape with body contouring surgery.
Individual results may vary
The goal of Body Contouring is a better-proportioned appearance with smoother contours. Surgical body contouring following major weight loss improves the shape of the underlying support tissue and removes excess sagging skin and fat. Body contouring procedures may include any combination of an arm lift, breast lift, facelift, lower body lift, medial thigh lift (correcting sagging of the inner thigh) and a tummy tuck, which targets the loose, excess skin hanging over the abdomen. For major contouring surgery, it may be necessary to break up the operation into smaller, staged procedures.
At the Zelken Institute, we not only design the most appropriate body contouring procedure for the individual patient, we follow specific protocols to maximize patient wellness. From pre-surgery health optimization to post-surgical care, Dr. Zelken and his team are committed to creating the best possible patient experience . Dr. Zelken’s skills combined with his unique approach to patient care make the Zelken Institute a premiere plastic surgery practice in Orange County.
In general, good candidates for body contouring are adults whose weight loss has stabilized. Ideally, body contouring surgery should not be done for two years following the start of any significant weight loss program. We also only perform surgical procedures on healthy individuals without medical conditions that can impair healing or increase the risks associated with surgery. You must also be a nonsmoker, have realistic goals and a commitment to healthy lifestyle with proper nutrition and fitness.
Prior to your body contouring surgery at the Zelken Institute of Aesthetic Medicine, you will have a consultation with Dr. Zelken. Be prepared to discuss your goals and any past medical procedures you have had. We may also take photographs for your medical record at this time. When we ask questions pertaining to your health, desires and lifestyle, the success and safety of your surgery depends on your complete candidness. During this consultation, you will be presented with a course of action based on Dr. Zelken’s extensive experience with body contouring after major weight loss. In some cases, we can pair excisional methods (like a tummy tuck) with scarless technologies to tighten your skin (see BodyTite) for a less invasive and synergistic result.
Though you will have unrivalled access to Dr. Zelken and his staff throughout the process, your pre-operative appointment is the best time for you to ask any questions you may have regarding the procedure. If you’re feeling anxious about your anticipated new look or the procedure itself, be sure to discuss those feelings with us. A little anxiety, by the way, is completely normal.
Dr. Zelken will insist that you stop smoking prior to any surgery, including body contouring. We will also go over the risks associated with the procedure, and you will be asked to sign consent forms to ensure that you fully understand the procedure and any risks or potential complications. We may also ask that you get a lab test or a medical evaluation, take certain medications or adjust your current medications, and avoid taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs, herbal supplements and other medications that may increase bleeding.
The decision to have any cosmetic surgery is extremely personal. You will have to decide if the benefits outweigh the risks and potential complications. For any outpatient surgery, it’s important that you arrange for someone to drive you to and from the procedure. We will work with you, though, to coordinate care after you leave our facility with one of our post-operative care consultants.
For your comfort during the surgical procedure, Dr. Zelken will recommend either oral, intravenous sedation or general anesthesia. For most bigger cases, you will need general anesthesia. Regardless of the area being targeted, body contouring procedures may require long incisions to remove excess skin. In many cases, these incisions may be extensive. Incision length and pattern depend on the amount and location of excess skin to be removed, as well as personal preference and Dr. Zelken’s judgment.
When possible, Dr. Zelken will utilize techniques that allow incisions to be placed in strategic locations where they can be hidden by most types of clothing. Body contouring is sometimes performed in stages. Your particular condition and goals, as well as Dr. Zelken’s judgment, will dictate the surgical plan.
Body — For a complete lower body lift, which treats sagging buttocks, abdomen, waist, hips and outer thighs, incision patterns vary and may include a circumferential incision around the body to remove the “belt” of excess skin and fat. This is sometimes call a “belt lift” or circumferential body lift.
Breasts — The incision patterns for lifting a man’s sagging breasts (gynecomastia surgery) will be determined based on the amount of excess skin to be removed. One or a combination of incisions may be used to reduce male breast size, flatten and enhance the chest contours.
For breast lifts in women, the incision patterns will be determined based on the amount of excess skin to be removed. These may include one or a combination of incisions in a circular pattern around the areola, in a line extending from the areola to the breast crease, and horizontally along the breast crease. A breast implant also may be recommended to enhance breast shape and size. You may hear terms like “lollipop scar”, “Wise pattern”, “anchor scar”, “vertical scar” or “circumareolar”, and Dr. Zelken will discuss all the nuances of these options.
Arms — Sagging skin of the upper arms (arm lift) is treated with an incision from the underarm area extending along the inside or back of the upper arm. Additional incisions on the arms may be necessary if there are other areas of excess skin. The arm lift is really a good opportunity to ask Dr. Zelken about “Arm Tite”, which includes liposuction and scarless skin tightening using BodyTite RFAL technology. His results are very impressive.
Thighs — Reshaping of the inner thighs is achieved through incisions in the groin that can extend downward to the knee along the inseam of the thigh. Improving contours of the outer thigh may require an incision extending from the groin toward the hip, toward the knee, or both.
During your recovery from body contouring surgery, dressings or bandages will be applied to your incisions following the procedure. Small, thin tubes may be temporarily placed under the skin to drain any excess blood or fluid that may collect. In addition, Dr. Zelken will give you specific instructions regarding how to care for the surgical site and drains, as well as medications to apply or take orally to aid healing and reduce the potential for infection.
We will also explain specific concerns to look for at the surgical site or in your general health, and we will schedule a follow-up appointment with Dr. Zelken at this time to monitor your progress.
We may also ask that you avoid bending, straining or lifting for several days to weeks. And where tightening of the abdomen or thighs is involved, Dr. Zelken may also instruct you to avoid standing fully upright and stressing any internal sutures as they heal. However, to minimize the risk of blood clots in the legs, you will need to be up and walking as soon as possible, and you will need to drink plenty of fluids.
The results of body contouring following significant weight loss are visible almost immediately; however, it can take two years or more to see the final results. If you maintain a stable weight and general fitness, the results of body contouring are will last a long time. As your body ages, though, it is natural to lose some firmness. Still, most of your initial improvement following body contouring surgery should remain.
If you’ve lost a substantial amount of weight and are considering body contouring or if you have questions about the procedure, don’t hesitate to contact us or schedule a consultation with Dr. Zelken. We’re located at 1617 Westcliff Drive in Newport Beach, CA, and we can be reached at (949) 432-4730. We serve patients from across the world — we have a Mandarin Chinese-speaking physician — along with clients in Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, Irvine and Laguna Beach, California.
Written by Dr. Jonathan Zelken
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