Weight-loss surgery can leave you with sagging extra skin. Here’s how you can minimize it
BY DR. MAZEN ISKANDAR, DR. TIMOTHY KELLY, AND DR. WATSON ROYE,
WEIGHT-LOSS SURGEONS AT TEXAS SURGICAL SPECIALISTS
Choosing to have weight-loss surgery can be a smart decision for your health. Losing weight if you need to can help you reduce the risk of many health conditions that might take away from your quality of life and shorten your lifespan.
Instead, one thing you may want to think about is how much excess skin you might have after you lose a lot of weight and how you would like to treat it. “Quite a few people will have some excess or hanging skin after their weight loss,” said weight-loss surgeon Mazen Iskandar, MD.
How likely is it that you will have excess skin after weight-loss surgery?
A few different factors affect the amount of excess skin you might have:
• How much weight you lose after your surgery—the more weight you lose, the more likely you are to have excess skin
• How quickly you lose weight—losing weight more slowly gives your skin time to tighten on its own
• How old you are—younger skin is more elastic and more likely to bounce back from stretching
• Genetic factors that influence the elasticity of your skin
“Some people don’t mind the excess skin,” said weight-loss surgeon Timothy Kelly, MD. “It’s a reminderof their progress.” But other people don’t like the look or feel of it. Sometimes, the excess skin can cause pain, discomfort, chafing, or health problems.
How can you minimize excess skin after weight-loss surgery?
You can take a few steps as you lose weight to help keep your skin as healthy and elastic as possible.
• Choose your diet carefully, so you lose weight at the right pace—don’t try to lose weight too fast
• Eat foods high in protein and vitamins to nourish your skin
• Drink plenty of water to keep your body and your skin hydrated
• Talk to your health care team about creams that can help moisturize your skin
• Consider strength training to build muscle that can
How can surgery help reduce excess skin?
“We like people to wait 18 months after their surgery before removing excess skin,” said weight-loss surgeon Watson Roye, MD. “By that time, your weight has usually stabilized, and your skin has tightened about as much as it will on its own.”
Surgeons can remove the excess skin with a cosmetic procedure. People typically have the excess skin removed on their abdomen, arms, breasts, or neck. If you choose to have surgery to remove excess skin, you can usually go home the day of your procedure. It takes about six weeks to heal from surgery, and several months for the scars to fade.
Does insurance pay for surgery to remove excess skin?
Every insurance plan is different, and you’ll want to consult with your provider to see what’s covered. Insurance companies often cover this surgery if excess skin is painful or causes rashes, sores, or problems with hygiene. They generally don’t cover surgery for cosmetic reasons.