Gastric Sleeve Before And After Skin – The Real Picture
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Last Updated on February 12, 2024
Let’s cut through the noise and set the record straight about gastric sleeve surgery—specifically, what happens to your skin after a weight loss surgery
One of the most common concerns I hear from my patients is that they’ll be left with a large amount of loose or excess skin post-operation and post-weight loss.
I know what’s running through your mind; you’ve seen the extreme cases on TV, those images of excess skin that might make you second-guess the decision to have weight loss surgery.
But let’s talk facts. The reality is, while excess skin can be a concern, it’s often not a major concern, especially in comparison to the original weight issue.
Skin Post-Weight Loss Surgery
Only a fraction of individuals may consider additional surgery post-gastric sleeve, and it’s often not because of feeling bad about excess skin—it’s about feeling good and wanting to look even better.
Your skin’s response to rapid weight loss after a sleeve gastrectomy hinges on several personal factors: gender, age, genetics, and your starting weight.
Let’s dive into what gastric sleeve before and after skin really looks like for the everyday person, not just the dramatic transformations you see on the silver screen.
Loose Skin Is Not a Guarantee
The conversation about gastric sleeve surgery isn’t complete without addressing the elephant in the room: sagging skin.
I’m here to tell you that while it’s a valid concern, it’s not an inevitable outcome. In fact, for a significant number of patients, loose skin is a non-issue—barely noticeable.
The fear of sagging skin shouldn’t deter you from considering the life-changing procedure of gastric sleeve surgery.
What Causes Sagging Skin After Bariatric Surgery?
To understand why sagging skin can happen, we must look under the surface—literally.
Our skin’s youthful firmness and snap-back quality are thanks to collagen and elastin fibers. These are the unsung heroes that keep our skin tight.
But when you experience major weight gain, you stretch these fibers beyond their capacity. Like overworked elastic bands, they may not return to their original length.
It’s not just the weight loss itself that leads to loose skin—the duration of obesity plays a crucial role. Think of it like a balloon that’s been inflated for a long period; once the air is out, the balloon doesn’t always shrink back to its original size.
Similarly, skin stretched by excess weight for an extended time may lose its ability to contract after weight loss.
So, whether you shed the pounds quickly or gradually, it’s the historical maximum stretch that influences your skin’s post-surgery tautness.
But there’s even more factors at play for why loose skin may occur – keep reading.
Why Loose Skin Occurs After Gastric Sleeve?
Loose skin post-weight loss surgery is influenced by several factors, not just your starting weight.
Your age, gender, and genetics all play a role in how your skin will look afterward. Let’s break down each of these elements:
Age: As you get older, your skin naturally loses elasticity. Younger skin has more collagen and can often recover its shape better after weight loss.
Gender: Men and women often experience different skin changes post-surgery, due to differences in skin thickness and how fat is distributed in the body.
Genetics: Just as some families are prone to certain traits, skin elasticity is also hereditary. Your genetic makeup can dictate how well your skin bounces back.
Duration of Obesity: The length of time your skin has been stretched by excess weight will affect its ability to retract after the weight is lost.
Starting Weight: The more weight you have to lose, the more your skin has been stretched, and consequently, the more likely you may experience loose skin.
Understanding these factors will help you set realistic expectations for your post-surgical outcome. While the concern for loose skin is valid, remember that it is not inevitable, and multiple factors are at play. Your journey to a healthier you is paramount, and potential loose skin is manageable.
Minimizing Skin Sagging After Bariatric Surgery
Your skin, the body’s largest organ, often gets sidelined as we focus on other areas of our health.
But, let’s shift that focus for a moment because during and after weight loss—especially post-bariatric surgery—your skin is going through a lot. It’s vulnerable to hormonal imbalances, environmental changes, and could be prone to dryness and sagging.
Taking care of it isn’t just vanity; it’s about your overall well-being
Understanding Post-Bariatric Body Contouring
Post-bariatric body contouring is a path that a select few take after their weight loss journey.
Emphasis on ‘few’, because contrary to popular belief, only 10-20% of patients—on the high end—opt for this type of surgery. The vast majority of individuals who undergo a gastric sleeve do not require additional procedures to achieve their desired body shape.
When to Consider Body Contouring
Body contouring isn’t a procedure to rush into immediately after weight loss surgery. It’s crucial to let your body settle into its new form.
This typically means waiting until you’ve maintained your weight loss consistently for at least 3-6 months.
Generally, the sweet spot for considering body contouring is around 12 to 18 months post-bariatric surgery when your weight has stabilized.
What is Body Contouring?
So, what exactly is body contouring? It’s a series of procedures designed to remove excess skin folds and the surrounding tissue that remains after losing a significant amount of weight. These procedures are tailored to give your body smoother, more defined contours.
During body contouring surgery, a cosmetic surgeon carefully removes the redundant areas of tissue. This might involve an incision around your midsection to address excess skin and fat or other procedures targeting your arms, thighs, or breasts to enhance their shape and appearance. The remaining tissue is then repositioned and sutured to create a more toned look.
Criteria for Body Contouring Candidates
Not everyone is a candidate for post-bariatric body contouring. It’s a journey that requires meticulous assessment and preparation.
Here’s what it takes to be eligible:
- Non-smoker: You should be free from smoking for at least 3 months.
- Weight Stability: Your weight should be stable for 3-6 months, typically waiting 12-24 months post-bariatric surgery to ensure the most stable result.
- Body Mass Index: A BMI under 30 is generally preferred.
- Nutrition: The ability to tolerate a high-protein diet (75-100 g per day) to promote proper healing.
- Medical Stability: You must be medically stable without any contraindicating health conditions.
- Social Support: A robust support system is key for the recovery process.
- Exercise: Regular participation in an exercise program to maintain fitness.
- Realistic Expectations: Understanding the scope, limitations, and outcomes of body contouring is essential.
- Financial Readiness and Recovery Time: Being prepared for the financial implications and the recovery period post-surgery.
Body contouring is not just a physical transformation; it’s a comprehensive commitment that extends to your lifestyle and mindset.
If you’ve maintained your weight loss and meet the criteria, and you’re considering taking your body’s appearance to the next level, body contouring could be a valuable option.
In Conclusion: Key Takeaways
Your journey through bariatric surgery and beyond is about more than just shedding pounds; it’s about embracing a healthier, more vibrant you.
Let’s recap the crucial points that will help you navigate your path with confidence:
Sagging Skin Isn’t Inevitable: Remember, not everyone will experience loose skin post-surgery, and for those who do, it can range from minor to more noticeable.
Body Contouring Is a Choice, Not a Necessity: Only a small percentage of patients choose to undergo additional contouring surgery, and it’s typically for enhancement rather than necessity.
Timing Is Key: If you decide on body contouring, it should be after weight has stabilized post-bariatric surgery, generally 12 to 18 months later.
Eligibility Is Specific: Not everyone is a candidate for contouring. It requires meeting particular health, nutritional, and lifestyle criteria.
Your Decision Is Personal: Whether or not to pursue further procedures is a deeply personal choice and should be made in consultation with your surgeon, considering your health, goals, and quality of life.
As a gastric sleeve surgeon committed to your wellbeing, my role is to guide and support you through all stages of this life-changing process. Your success is our shared goal, and with the right preparation, expectations, and care, you can look forward to a healthier future. If you have any concerns or questions, my door is always open for consultation.
Here’s to a journey that reflects not just the change in your body, but the renewal of your spirit.
If you’re thinking about sleeve surgery, here’s some next steps to take:
- Evaluate your eligibility: Take a quick online quiz to see if you qualify for sleeve surgery – How Much Will I lose After Sleeve Surgery? Calculate weight loss
- How Long Does A Gastric Sleeve Surgery Take?
- Seek expert advice: Speak with a Sleeve Clinic Program Advisor
- Become part of our community: Follow The Sleeve Clinic on Instagram
Please note that the information provided in this article is for general informational purposes only and should not replace medical advice. It is always recommended to consult with a qualified healthcare professional for personalized guidance regarding weight loss surgery.
If you are considering sleeve surgery you can book a consultation with our weight loss clinic here: Contact us!
- Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases – Aspects of excess skin in obesity, after weight loss, after body contouring surgery and in a reference population
- Plastic Reconstructive Surgery Global Open – Skin Protein Profile After Major Weight Loss and It’s Role in Body Contouring SurgeryDivision of Plastic and Reconstructive & Aesthetic Surgery – Post-Bariatric Body Contouring
- Canadian Society of Plastic Surgeons – Body Contouring
- Cleveland Clinic – Excess Skin Removal
- CBC – Weight Loss Surgery Only Half the Battle: Excess Skin Costly To Remove in N.B.