According to researchers, weight-loss surgery for morbidly obese patients has increased in popularity and so have the plastic surgery procedures many patients need postsurgery—including procedures to get rid of folds of excess loose skin.

“Often, a traditional ‘tummy tuck’ is not enough, and patients need a belt lipectomy, in which excess skin around the whole circumference of the waist and hips is removed,” note plastic surgeons in an article published in the November 7 issue of the World Journal of Gastroenterology.

Plastic surgeons note that weight-loss surgery may often leave sagging in the breast area in men and women. Men will have excess skin and underlying tissue removed, while women opt for breast implants in addition to a breast lift.

Other problems after weight-loss surgery include flabby skin on the upper arms that cause a ‘bat wing’ appearance when the arms are lifted, as well as excess skin hanging from the thighs. Again, the surgical solution is to remove the excess skin and tissue, say plastic surgeons.

“Body contouring can offer most of these patients an ‘amazing transformation’ to a healthier, fitter body,” says  Jason A. Spector, assistant professor of surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City.

Spector notes that just like weight-loss surgery, body contouring is not without risks and includes blood loss during surgery and a small risk of blood clotting and some patients may even suffer wound infections, abdominal hernias, or numbness in the area where skin was removed.

However, as postobesity body contouring has become more common, outcomes have improved along the way, according to Spector.

“As we perform more and more of these procedures, surgeons are now well into the hundreds of cases and we’re bound to get better at them, refining techniques and improving outcomes even more,” Spector says.

[today.reuters.com, November 14, 2006]