Body contouring with plastic surgery

Body contouring is a general term referring to a wide array of plastic surgeries performed on parts of the body. The goal is to improve the shape and tone of the body part in question, by changing the underlying tissue which supports fat. Body contouring with plastic surgery comprises some of the most common surgical procedures performed on people who’ve lost a significant amount of weight as a way to remove excess skin. It is popular amongst both men and women. Like all surgeries, there are side effects and possible complications. Also, costs can be prohibitive.

An abdominoplasty or “tummy tuck” is a very common cosmetic surgery. Patients with loose skin after pregnancy or individuals with skin sagging after major weight loss will often choose this type of procedure. In general, an abdominoplasty involves cutting from hip to hip just above the pubic area and detaching the skin from the abdominal wall to reveal the muscles and tissue. Excess skin and fat are removed to tighten the area, and the rectus may be tightened. Abdominoplasties can either be “full” or “mini” and can take one to five hours.

Liposuction often accompanies abdominoplasty as a way to further contour the body. Also known as lipoplasty or simply “lipo”, suction-assisted fat removal is a cosmetic surgery operation that can remove fat from a variety of different sites on the body including the abdomen, thighs and buttocks, neck, backs of the arms and elsewhere. It is sometimes used as an alternative to weight loss. During lipoplasty, a cosmetic surgeon removes fat with a cannula (hollow tube) and a suction device. Depending on a number of factors, surgeons vary the amount of fluid used in lipoplasty as well as type of cannula used. Lipoplasty causes bruising and swelling. It may also cause scars, pain, and numbness.

Lower Body Lift
Surgeries to contour bodies have expanded out from the abdomen to include the pubic area, lower back, buttocks and thighs. For example, a lower body lift is another body contouring procedure to reshape a patient’s abdomen, hips, thighs, and buttocks. Someone who has experienced massive weight loss may choose this operation to remove extra skin hanging around the lower torso (also called a belt lipectomy). It is an extension of the tummy tuck, wrapping completely around the lower torso. The surgery can take five to eight hours.

Brachioplasty (Arm Lift)
On the upper body, the shrinking of the arms from weight loss or aging can lead to excess skin hanging from the arm and cause some people to feel self-conscious. Brachioplasty, or an arm lift is used to tighten the excess skin of the arm and armpit. The biggest drawback of the procedure is a long scar in a visible area (the arm). The procedure is sometimes combined with the lifting and contouring of sagging female or male breasts.

Mastoplexy (Breast Lift)

Mastoplexy or breast lift surgery changes the shape of the breast, often to tighten the tissue and prevent visible sagging. It involves cutting into the breast, removing excess skin and suturing the smaller area back together. Various techniques are used to achieve desired results. The surgeon will determine the most appropriate breast lift technique based on various factors such as the desired outcome and the patient’s pre-operative state.

Risks & Costs

Body contouring with plastic surgery will cause scars and no one can perfectly predict how scars will heal on a person. Body contouring surgery can cause a number of minor or major complications. Allergic reactions, and skin and tissue damage and discoloration may occur. Severe complications can include infection, blood clots, thrombosis, cardiac and pulmonary complications. Recovery times can also vary considerably. Body contouring by plastic surgery can also cost anywhere from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars and may not be covered by standard health insurance.

Best Candidates
To be a good candidate for these types of surgical procedures you need to be in good health and a stable weight for approximately six months. Also, it is recommended to get medical clearance from your primary care physician.

About The Author
Dr. Usha Rajagopal is a board certified plastic surgeon with over 15 years of experience specializing in cosmetic surgery for men and women. For more information see her website San Francisco Plastic Surgery & Laser Center
Last updated on Sep 3rd, 2010 and filed under Plastic Surgery. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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