Can Plastic Surgery Help You Lose Weight?
If you have been dieting and exercising to lose weight, you are probably familiar with what is known as the plateau effect. This occurs when you have lost a certain amount of weight, but then you seem to be stuck and cannot get your weight down further.
This can be frustrating, particularly if you are within 10 or so pounds of your goal weight. Even if you try to change up your diet or exercise routine, the number on that scale does not seem to budge. Maybe you’ve thought about plastic surgery, such as liposuction or a body contouring procedure to help jump start your weight loss off that plateau.
At Jefferson Plastic Surgery, we often get questions about this from prospective patients. The truth is that plastic surgery procedures are not primarily designed to help you lose weight, unlike bariatric surgical procedures. Read further to find out more about how these procedures differ.
Weight Loss (Bariatric) Surgery
There are three main types of bariatric surgery, all of which are designed to stimulate weight loss if you have not been able to do so by a combination of diet and exercise. A lap band, gastric sleeve, or gastric bypass surgical procedure reduces the size of your stomach, which will then restrict your caloric intake.
- A lap band procedure places a rubber ring around the top section of the stomach, creating a smaller pouch, through which food will pass.
- A gastric sleeve procedure removes a portion of the stomach, making it into the shape of a tube.
- A gastric bypass procedure attaches a small pouch to the small intestine, through which food will pass. This completely bypasses the stomach.
These procedures should be done by a gastroenterologist surgeon trained in these types of surgery. They are specifically designed for patients who are extremely overweight and have other serious health issues such as diabetes and cardiac disease.
Body Contouring and Liposuction Procedures
Conversely, body contouring and liposuction procedures are designed to improve the shape of your body after you have either reached your weight loss goals or are within just a few pounds and want to address a few areas of fat in specific areas. Neither procedure is primarily designed as a weight loss procedure.
Skin tightening: A skin tightening procedure will remove excess skin after dramatic weight loss. In fact, many of our patients who undergo skin tightening have undergone bariatric surgery and want to improve their body contour. Although the abdominal area is the most popular, skin tightening can be performed on a number of areas on the body, such as the inner or outer thighs, upper arms, back, hips, or waist. For this procedure, your surgeon will make a set of incision to gently lift up the skin and underlying tissue, pull it tight, remove the excess skin and tissue, and then suture the remainder back into place.
Liposuction: If you are within a few pounds of your goal weight, but still have stubborn pockets of fat remaining, a liposuction procedure may be a good option for you. Just as with a skin tightening procedure, this is not meant to be a weight loss procedure. Rather, it provides the last, finishing touches to help you show off the results of all the hard work you have done to get into better shape. In this procedure, your surgeon will make a series of small incisions in the area targeted for fat removal. The surgeon will then insert a thin, hollow, metal tube through the incisions and vacuum out the excess fat cells. In some cases, vibration, heat, or ultrasound may be used to more efficiently and effectively remove fat.