Body Contouring: Is It For You? continued...
"Short of surgery, there is really nothing that can help. Exercise won't tighten it, and skin creams and lotions won't do a thing to help," says Nolan Karp, MD, associate professor of plastic surgery at New York University Medical Center.
But body contouring doesn't come cheap. The average price of a full-body lift is around $30,000. Arm surgery runs in the range of $8,000, while inner thighs cost about $10,000 a pair. A breast lift and upper back surgery will set you back about $15,000, and a neck and face lift would add another $15,000 to the bill. (As you probably already guessed, insurance rarely covers any of it.)
When you add to this the need for four to six weeks of at-home recovery, for many, spandex can seem like the only viable option.
In an attempt to make things easier, many doctors use finance companies to help patients work out a kind of "plastic surgery mortgage" -- a payment plan that allows you to reduce the size of your midsection without paying an arm and a leg up front.
Doctors say they also help patients rationalize the expenditure, frequently comparing it to the purchase of a new car.
"Many people wouldn't hesitate to spend $30,000 for a new car. So I ask them, after all that hard work losing the weight, aren't you worth the same $30,000 to look the way you want to look?" says Karp.
7 Things to Do Before Having Surgery
If you are considering body-contouring surgery, here's what experts we talked to said you should do first:
- Stabilize your weight -- at your goal -- for at least three months, and be sure to correct all nutritional deficiencies (which are common after weight loss surgery).
- Establish a reliable support network of family and friends to help you during recovery.
- Make sure you can get enough time off from work to recover. It will take 4-6 weeks depending on the procedure.
- Understand that everything is a trade-off between removing skin, getting a contour, and having a scar. Scars are permanent. They do get lighter, but don't disappear over time.
- Prioritize your body according to the area that bothers you the most, and concentrate your surgery there first. You may find you don't need additional procedures.
- Prior to surgery, stop smoking (to reduce complications) and increase your protein intake to 50 to 70 grams per day to speed healing.
- Choose a surgeon who is board-certified in plastic and reconstructive surgery -- not just a board-certified doctor.