“Weight loss is causing an increase in cosmetic surgery” by Dr. Chana
by Plastic Surgeon Jag Chana
Weight loss resulting from effective dieting or weight loss surgery in many cases can result in loose and redundant skin. In recent years both in the US and the UK there has been a dramatic rise in weight loss surgery which is beginning to have a knock on effect in an increase in cosmetic surgery procedures.
Cosmetic surgery following weight loss typically results in requests for abdominoplasty, breast uplifts, arm lifts, thigh lifts and even facelifts . After massive weight loss more extensive skin removal may also be achieved by performing bodylifts. A recent report by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) documented the fastest rate of rise of post weight loss surgery in 4 years to 2014. This is due to a correlation between bariatric surgery which also increased by a similar degree during the same period.
In 2013, 179000 Americans underwent bariatric surgery which averages nearly 500 procedures a day. Similarly thigh lifts and arm lifts had their biggest increase in the five years to 2914 and up by approximately 10 percent. Abdominoplasty were up by 4 percent and breast uplifts by 10 percent which has been the largest single year gain since 2009. 2009 was when the American Society of Plastic Surgeons commenced collating data on procedures performed following weight loss. In 2014, nearly 45,000 patients who experienced massive weight loss underwent various skin excisional procedures which represents the biggest single year increase. While these numbers are huge it is only a fraction of patients who may benefit from this. It is therefore likely this trend will continue.
I have seen a similar increase in the UK with an increasing number of request for such surgery. In particular there has been a noticeable increase in arm lifts and thigh lifts in my practice. For individuals undergoing such surgery it should be remembered that massive weight loss patients have a higher risk profile than other non-weight loss patients. The higher body mass index, combined with surgery which involves long incisions does predispose to various risks including delayed wound healing, marginal skin necrosis and seromas etc. The rate of revisional surgery is also higher. These factors need to be considered when patients are making an informed choice about whether to proceed to surgery. In general, however, for most patients the benefits of losing the redundant skin along with the associated discomfort of skin excess usually far outweigh some of the risks associated with long scars.