What’s the Difference Between Body Contouring and Weight Loss Surgery?

Shedding unwanted fat is always a hot topic of conversation among my patients. It’s quite common for plastic surgery patients to seek help getting rid of unwanted body fat in an effort to improve how they look and feel. But to help determine which procedure may best help someone achieve the improved figure they desire, I must first help them realize what exactly each specific cosmetic procedure is capable of for each individual patient. This begins by defining the difference between body contouring procedures and weight loss procedures. Although I do not personally perform bariatric surgery, I do perform post-bariatric surgery and many patients may not understand this distinction.

What’s the Difference Between Body Contouring and Weight Loss SurgeryWhile both weight loss (or bariatric) surgery and body contouring surgery can both provide excellent results and improve a patient’s appearance and self-esteem, they are very different types of procedures intended to help patients with drastically different needs. That’s why I have taken some time to differentiate weight loss surgery from body contouring surgery to help patients understand which type of procedure to consider.

Bariatric surgery is designed to help people who are very overweight or obese lose considerable amounts of weight. The procedure works by limiting the amount of food the patient’s stomach can hold by reducing the size of the stomach with a gastric band or through removal of a portion of the stomach. Certain bariatric procedures even re-route the small intestine to a small stomach pouch. In some cases, this may lead to a state called malabsorption in which the body cannot absorb of certain food nutrients in a typical way. The most commonly-performed bariatric surgery procedures today include gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy, adjustable gastric band, and biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch.

On the other hand, body contouring procedures are designed to help patients rejuvenate their appearance after they have experienced dramatic changes to their body as a result of major weight loss, pregnancy, or natural aging. Unlike bariatric surgery that may help a patient lose a large amount of weight, body contouring is intended to help those who are already at or near their ideal weight tweak their appearance by removing and repositioning excess skin and tissue. Some of the most popular body contouring procedures include liposuction, tummy tucks, breast lifts, and arm lifts.

Instead of focusing on their differences, let’s take a moment to consider how these types of procedures can complement each other. Often after bariatric surgery, patients are left to deal with an excess of loose, stretched skin. That’s where body contouring procedures can help put the finishing touches on a patient’s new improved appearance by removing this extra skin and smoothing out the results of their bariatric surgery. We call this post-bariatric surgery. For more information body contouring or post-bariatric surgery, please contact Southern Plastic Surgery today to schedule your plastic surgery consultation with me, Dr. David Whiteman. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more tips, photos, and updates.