Excess skin after weight-loss

Patient

Q: I am a 47 year old male. A little over five years ago I weighed 220 lbs. (I am 5' 11" tall). Through diet and exercise (both cardio and weight training) over the past five years I have lost almost 60lbs. I currently weigh around 160lbs. Prior to losing this weight I was embarrassed to be seen without a shirt on due to my belly. Since losing the weight, I am still embarrassed to be seen without a shirt due to escess skin below my navel and above my waist. Is there anything that can be done to address this loose skin so that it doesn't look so bad? It is frustrating that with all the work that I have put in I still have this problem.

Doctor

A:   Thank you for your question.

I want to start out by congratulating you for your hard work, which truly paid off. Not many people have the ability to lose 60 lbs with diet and exercise alone.

What you are describing is a very common problem that we encounter when patients lose large amounts of weight in a relatively short amount of time. You skin has lost the majority of its laxity and when you lost the weight, it did not 'recoil' and resulted in redundant, loose skin. Patients often feel self conscious about this and want to address this issue to feel more comfortable in tighter clothing and potentially without a shirt.

The best and really only option for you is abdominoplasty surgery or a tummy tuck. This is an operation that takes about 3 hours that removes all of the redundant skin and fat from the abdomen, leaving you with a smooth, flat tummy. The scars for the operation extend across the lower part of the abdomen (underneath underwear lines) and a small circular scar around the belly button. During the operation, your surgeon will also tighten the ab muscles (plication), as they have been stretched out over the years, resulting in a slimmer waistline, and stronger core.

The recovery from this type of operation usually involves being off work for approximately 2 weeks. You will likely go home with drains which will be removed 1 week following surgery.

This is a very commonly performed procedure that is safe and effective. If you are interested in having this done, my advice would be to meet with a board certified plastic surgeon in your area to discuss this operation.

I will caution you that you may have cosmetic physicians advertise that lasers and RF (radiofrequency) technology can help to lift and tighten the skin. This is somewhat true, but only have a minor effect and are only useful in patients with good skin elasticity. These procedures WILL NOT improve your tummy, and will cost you both time and money.

Comments / Follow Ups

Guest: Congratulations on getting your weight down! All the best with the surgery and continued success on the new healthy lifestyle!

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