Plastic Surgery After Weight Loss

Many people who have lost 100 pounds or more are overjoyed at their success. After losing a lot of weight, though, you still may have loose, heavy folds of skin left as a reminder of your former self.

Plastic surgery can remove the extra skin and improve the shape and tone of tissue in your arms, thighs, breasts, buttocks, face, and abdomen.

There are several types of cosmetic surgery to help you gain a trimmer, firmer shape: Body contouring, also known as body lift surgery; tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty; buttock augmentation; breast lifts; and arm lifts.


Body Contouring (Body Lift)

Body lift surgery is one of the most common procedures used to improve the body's appearance after weight loss surgery. It’s also long-lasting, if you keep your weight stable.

The surgeon makes one cut along the abdomen and removes excess, sagging skin. The surgeon also lifts and tightens the buttocks, abdomen, waist, hips, thighs, and arms in the same procedure. Liposuction is often used to remove fat and improve body contour. Buttock augmentation may be done since buttocks often flatten with extreme weight loss.

Body lift surgery can dramatically change your appearance, and the results are permanent, except for a loss of natural firmness that comes with age.

But body lifts are not without risk. For example, there will be scarring. Some people continue to have problems with loose skin. And some people need a follow-up cosmetic procedure.

The higher your BMI (body mass index), the more likely you are to have complications. Possible complications of body lifts include bleeding, infection, tissue death, abnormal scars, and formation of a seroma -- a mass or lump that results from fluid buildup in an organ or tissue.

Your surgeon should discuss the risks and benefits with you before your surgery. But for most people, the result is a smoother, more normal body shape.


Tummy Tuck

People often get a "tummy tuck" as part of body lift surgery. A tummy tuck can help flatten the stomach when diet, exercise, and weight loss have not done enough. A tummy tuck is not the same as liposuction, although you may need liposuction as part of a tummy tuck.


A full tummy tuck involves your surgeon making a large cut around the naval that runs from hipbone to hipbone. The surgeon can then manipulate the skin, tissues, and muscle and repair weakened abdominal muscles. Your surgeon will also slightly move your belly button to suit your new shape. In some cases, the surgeon may need to make a second cut to remove excess skin in the upper abdomen.

You will have scars, but they will fade somewhat over time. The result will be a firmer, flatter abdomen that better matches a trimmer figure.


Breast Lift

If your breasts are sagging, a breast lift can help lift, firm, and reshape them. In a breast lift, your surgeon removes excess skin and tissue, and repositions the nipple higher on your chest. Some people also get breast implants to improve their shape.

It's possible that later you may need a touch-up procedure. For instance, if the breasts are slightly different after breast lift surgery, the surgeon may need to reposition the nipple.


Should You Have Plastic Surgery After Weight Loss?

You are likely a good candidate for plastic surgery after weight loss if:

  • Your weight is stable.
  • You're in good health.
  • You don't smoke.
  • You have a positive outlook and realistic goals for the results.
  • You are committed to proper nutrition, fitness, and an overall healthy lifestyle.

If you're a woman planning to get pregnant, it's best to wait until after you've had children before having any of these plastic surgeries after a weight loss.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Stephanie S. Gardner, MD on June 05, 2015



American Society of Plastic Surgeons: "Body Lift." 

American Society of Plastic Surgeons: "Body Contouring." 

American Society of Plastic Surgeons: "Breast Lift."

WebMD Medical Reference: "Cosmetic Procedures: Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty)." 

WebMD Medical Reference: "Guide to Plastic Surgery: Breast Lift (Mastopexy).

WebMD Health News: "Body Contouring Surgery Improves."

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