Excess Skin After Weight Loss Surgery
Not infrequently I am asked what is the best timing for removal of excess skin after weight loss surgery.
First of all, lets keep in mind that this is a good “problem” to have. It is not really a matter of excess skin after weight loss surgery so much as a big reduction of the excessive fat. In the years prior the skin will have stretched to accommodate the excess body fat and it often lacks the elasticity to bounce back to a normal, nice shape following big weight loss.
A few factors that determine how much “excess skin” are a persons age, how much weight the person gained prior to weight loss surgery, and the sun exposure over ones lifetime to that skin (ultraviolet sunlight exposure reduces the elasticity of the skin).
Of course the question of whether or not to have the excess skin removed is really a question of whether or not the individual in question is OK with having what is essentially cosmetic plastic surgery. This is definitely a personal decision and one that no two people will look at quite the same. So without a lot of discussion about our body self images and what does and does not really warrant plastic surgery, lets cut to the question as to when is the optimal timing, assuming that you did want to undergo plastic surgery somewhere down the road after your terrific weight loss? (In our practice somewhere around 1/3 of patients do undergo some type of plastic surgery within five years after their bariatric procedure).
The answer, I think, is this: once you have reached your goal weight.
So this means that you must establish a goal weight and then it means that you must stick to that goal, work hard at achieving that goal and once you have achieved it consider that the optimal time frame for undergoing plastic surgery for excess skin. The reasons for this are that you do not want to do it too early before your body has reached its best possible shape lest you would have to do it again. For most people this means waiting a minimum of eighteen months and many times waiting an even longer period of time. If you are like the average person who undergoes Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery you may want to wait twenty-four months to reach your best goal weight. If you are undergoing laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding surgery you may want to wait thirty-six months since so many people continue to lose weight between year two and year three. You may want to wait even longer!
But, my bottom line, wait until you have reached your goal weight. If you like to have rewards for yourself and plastic surgery is something that is important to you then consider it a major reward for yourself when you do achieve your goal weight.