A belt lipectomy is a post-bariatric body contouring surgery that aims to remove hanging abdominal skin after significant weight loss. With bariatric (weight loss) surgery, excess pounds tend to fall away fast. It is common for individuals to lose most of their excess weight in the first two years. When a person has been obese for several years, the skin around the abdomen can lose its elasticity. Due to a breakdown of collagen and elastin, the skin is no longer able to bounce back after the extra padding is gone. This can lead to an apron of fat that hangs over the mons pubis, leading to all sorts of issues.
In this post, we are going to discuss why some people experience hanging abdominal skin after weight loss surgery, the problems the saggy tissue can produce, and how a belt lipectomy can help you find confidence and improved quality of life after undergoing this popular post-bariatric body contouring procedure.
Why Do I Have Hanging Skin on My Abdomen?
The above is a common question posed by individuals who have succeeded with bariatric surgery. Hanging skin on the abdomen is a possibility after losing 100 pounds or more in a short amount of time. This is precisely what happens with weight loss procedures such as gastric sleeve surgery. With slower weight loss, it may be possible for the skin’s elasticity to kick in, allowing the skin to match the amount of weight that was lost. When the fat is lost too fast, the skin’s elasticity fails to catch up, and hanging skin is the result.
Read our article: Gastric Sleeve Surgery Weight Loss – How Much Fat Can You Expect to Lose (In Pounds)?
Can Exercise Help with Saggy or Hanging Skin?
Hanging skin may retract somewhat when saggy or hanging skin remains on the abdomen. Doing sit-ups or crunches can produce a tightening effect, but the effects may not be noticeable if the hanging skin is excessive.
Can Your Skin Regain Elasticity?
The skin is the body’s largest organ. The layer of protective coating serves several important purposes, such as providing a barrier of protection against the environment. The inner layer of the skin contains proteins which include collagen and elastin. The former makes up 80% of the skin’s structure and gives skin qualities like firmness and strength. The latter gives skin its elasticity and helps the skin remain tight.
When the skin has been significantly stretched over many years, collagen and elastin protein fibers can become damaged. This diminishes their ability to contract, which is why hanging skin sometimes remains following weight loss surgery. It doesn’t help that weight loss surgery tends to cause the body to form less new collagen. The collagen that does form tends to be weaker when compared to young, healthy skin.
Therefore, after weight loss surgery, it is unlikely that elasticity will return to the skin after a successful bout of weight loss. Post-bariatric body contouring surgery is the most effective method for ridding the body of the resulting excess tissue.
The Problems Saggy Skin Can Produce
Hanging abdominal skin can be so excessive that it hangs down over the thighs and genitals. The issue is known as pannus stomach, apron belly, or mother’s apron, the latter because hanging skin can sometimes result after pregnancy.
The size of the hanging skin can vary. For some people, the skin stops at the top of the pubic area while others may experience hanging skin that stretches all the way down to the knees. The problem can affect both men and women.
More Susceptible to Disease
People with apron bellies are more likely to form certain cancers such as ovarian cancer, but also heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
Having an apron belly can cause shame and embarrassment. While the tissue can sometimes be hidden inside baggy clothing or sweats, a person may come to hate their body when looking in the bathroom mirror and may avoid certain situations such as swimming or getting intimate with a new lover.
Hanging abdominal skin can make exercise more difficult. This poses a major problem for those who have succeeded with weight loss surgery. In order to keep the weight from coming back, exercise is essential. If you don’t want to work out because of the excess tissue, you may experience weight regain, which is frustrating for those who don’t want to undo all their hard work. The extra skin may also pose difficulties with walking and sexual activity.
Furthermore, the skin may rub against the skin of the mons pubis or thighs, leading to irritation, rashes, and possible infections.
Sweat can gather inside the hanging skin, which produces hygiene issues, including offensive odors.
Due to these life-diminishing problems, people attempt all sorts of ways for alleviating their apron belly. They may use anti-chafing creams, support bands, support clothing like Skims, and frequent bathing. However, a belt lipectomy can alleviate the excess tissue and any problems that an apron belly causes. The procedure should be considered by anyone who has succeeded with bariatric surgery and wants the excess abdominal tissue gone for good.
How is a Belt Lipectomy Performed?
A belt lipectomy is also known as a body lift. The purpose of the post-bariatric body contouring surgery is to flatten the belly while providing a smoother contour. The procedure can also be used to remove extra fat and skin from the lower back. The operation is performed while you are under the effects of general anesthesia. In most cases, you can go home the same day of belt lipectomy surgery.
On the day of the surgery, an anesthesiologist will administer the anesthesia. This professional will also carefully watch your vital signs during the operation to ensure your safety. You will also receive antibiotics during and after the surgery to help prevent infection.
Once the anesthesia has taken effect, the cosmetic surgeon will create an incision where the buttocks and lower back come together. The purpose of this cut is to remove extra skin and tissue.
Read our article: Skin Removal After Weight Loss Surgery – What You Should Know
The cut is extended to the front flower belly, whereby extra skin and tissue are removed from the abdomen. The flaps of skin are then connected and shaped to create a smooth contour.
Once the operation is complete, medical staff will put dressings on the wounds before wheeling you into the recovery area.
Upon waking up from the anesthesia, you may have a tube under the skin. The purpose of this tube is to drain fluid that builds up in the treatment area. The surgeon will remove the drainage tube during a follow-up visit.
You may feel some pain after belt lipectomy surgery, but pain medication should help. You can eat normally once you feel hungry. Your surgeon may require you to stay in the hospital overnight for close monitoring, but most go home the same day as surgery.
How Can a Belt Lipectomy Improve Your Quality of Life?
The results of a belt lipectomy are immediate. That is, the excess skin and tissue will no longer pose a problem with regard to exercise, walking, or sexual activity. Furthermore, studies show that people who undergo post-bariatric body contouring surgery such as a belt lipectomy are less likely to regain the weight later.
By undergoing a belt lipectomy, you are also less susceptible to disease. That means your health can improve following the operation. This is also evident in the fact that you are less likely to regain excess weight after undergoing the body contouring procedure.
Without the excess skin, you can exercise freely, and you won’t have irritation and skin breakdown. Your contours will also more closely match your weight loss, leading to improved body image. This brings us to our next point, that the belt lipectomy improves the way you feel about yourself.
How Does a Belt Lipectomy Give You Confidence?
Loose skin from weight loss can negatively affect body image and mood. With the excess tissue gone, you will look better in clothes and your self-image and self-confidence are sure to improve.
Are You a Suitable Candidate for a Belt Lipectomy?
To be considered for this post-bariatric body contouring surgery, you should be in good overall health with no untreated medical conditions such as heart disease or diabetes. If you smoke, you will be asked to quit smoking at least two weeks prior to the surgery, as tobacco smoke can hinder your body’s ability to heal following the operation. Smoking also puts you at greater risk of complications both during and after belt lipectomy surgery.
Your weight should also be stable. Your surgeon will recommend waiting to have a belt lipectomy performed until your weight has been stable for at least one year. If you have recently undergone weight loss surgery, the surgeon may recommend that you wait at least two years following that operation before considering post-bariatric body contouring surgery. This time span allows your skin to contract as much as possible, for your nutrition to become optimized, and for your recovery from the former surgery to be complete.
Speaking of nutrition, people considering a belt lipectomy should be eating a healthy diet. The good thing about weight loss surgery is that part of the program teaches you how to optimize your nutrition. You should be eating a high-protein diet, as having a protein deficiency can interfere with healing. By increasing your protein, you can ensure that your body will heal efficiently from both weight loss surgery and post-bariatric body contouring surgery.
You should have healthy expectations for what the procedure can do for your body and confidence. For example, you should not expect to have the abdomen of your favorite movie star or pop singer. Surgery cannot perform miracles. Belt lipectomy surgery can give you a drastically improved abdominal area while solving all of the issues previously mentioned.
You will have scar tissue after the procedure that can be hidden in your bikini line or underwear. The surgeon will ensure that you understand about any scarring that can result, as well as the risks of the surgery, which include blood clots, infection, numbness, asymmetry, and recurrent looseness of skin.
You can reduce your chances of experiencing complications from a belt lipectomy by choosing an experienced body contouring surgeon.
Where Can You Find a Body Contouring Surgeon in and Near Los Angeles?
If you have hanging skin following significant weight loss or if you are currently obese and considering bariatric surgery but worried about hanging skin, you are encouraged to meet with Doctor Babak Moeinolmolki of Healthy Life Bariatrics.
Doctor Moeinolmolki is the only surgeon in Southern California who is board certified in both bariatric surgery and post-bariatric body contouring surgery. That means you can undergo weight loss surgery and body contouring to remove excess skin using the same experienced surgeon, all under the same roof, saving you both time and money.
Excess abdominal skin, or apron belly, is a common occurrence after rapid weight loss, which is what bariatric surgery produces. Doctor Moeinolmolki can help you get rid of the excess skin with body contouring, but first, you need to schedule a consultation.