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.

Liposuction vs. Tummy Tuck: Which is Right for Me?

One of the more common questions I receive from patients during plastic surgery consultations is to clarify the differences between certain procedures that may seem similar to the uninitiated. Specifically body contouring procedures like a tummy tuck and liposuction. Though these procedures are both highly in-demand for creating a flatter abdominal area, they are actually very different. A tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, involves removing loose or excess skin from the lower abdomen and tightening the abdominal muscles whereas a liposuction procedure actually removes troublesome deposits of fat.

A tummy tuck can often make sense for patients trying to get rid of excess skin around the abdomen, treat unsightly stretch marks, as well as a loose abdominal pooch that is caused by muscle separation that occurs during pregnancy or excessive weight gain. Results from a successful tummy tuck will produce a flatter stomach, smoother skin, leaner abs and even a more contoured waistline when performed with my Scarpa Fascia technique.

Undergoing liposuction makes sense for those patients who are interested in contouring by removing stubborn fat from specific areas of the body that can be tough to treat just through diet and exercise. Typically, these patients are close to a comfortable body weight. Liposuction may not be right for patients who are considerably overweight or obese and looking to drop significant weight, since removing large amounts of fat in a single day with liposuction it not recommended.

Determining whether a tummy tuck or a liposuction procedure makes the most sense for a specific patient may depend on the quality of a patient’s skin. In the following video, I explain how the laxity and condition of a patient’s skin can be the determining factor when choosing a cosmetic procedure:

When it comes to cosmetic surgery procedures, what is right for a certain patient may not be right for another. That is why it’s so important to schedule a consultation with a board-certified cosmetic surgeon (like myself) to discuss your surgical options and your aesthetic goals in-depth before making any hasty decisions. For more information or to schedule a consultation, contact Dr. David Whiteman at Southern Plastic Surgery today. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ for additional tips and news updates.