It is a really common phenomena. Someone loses a ton of weight. They are all excited about their weight loss and then the reality hits them. As much as it is wonderful to accomplish losing all of that fat there is a down side that surprises a lot of people – flabby and loose, unsightly skin. As practitioners we are well equipped to help folks with solutions to their unexpected skin issues – but what we rarely think of when we see them is how to help them keep the weight off, maintaining that look we helped them create with a little bit of cosmetic and aesthetic magic. That magic is what makes TSLMS members what they are.
Surgically Assisted Weight Loss
There are several different types of weight loss treatments that are popular. One of these is liposuction. Another is laparoscopic gastric banding. And yet another is body sculpting. The first two are surgical options and the third is an alternative. What will be right for any particular person may not be for another, and you may have to coach someone in a direction that they did not originally want to go to ensure the end result is a happy and satisfied patient.
- Liposuction. As noted by Medical News Today: “Liposuction, also called lipoplasty, liposculpture suction, lipectomy, or lipo, is a type of cosmetic surgery that breaks up and “sucks” fat from the body. It is often used on the abdomen, thighs, buttocks, neck, chin, upper and backs of the arms, calves, and back. The fat is removed through a hollow instrument, known as a cannula. This is inserted under the skin. A powerful, high-pressure vacuum is applied to the cannula. Liposuction is the most common cosmetic operation in the United States. More than 300,000 procedures are carried out in the United States each year with costs ranging from roughly $2,000-3,500.”
- Laparoscopic Gastric Banding. Defined by MedlinePlus is “surgery to help with weight loss. The surgeon places a band around the upper part of your stomach to create a small pouch to hold food. The band limits the amount of food you can eat by making you feel full after eating small amounts of food. After surgery, your doctor can adjust the band to make food pass more slowly or quickly through your stomach.”
- Body Sculpting, or CoolSculpting. As noted by the website for the brand CoolSculpting, “cryolipolysis is a safe and effective way to reduce excess fat. CoolSculpting® is not a weight loss treatment. CoolSculpting® is for patients at or near their ideal body weight and want to reduce fat in one or more of the 9 FDA cleared treatment areas.” While this third option does not necessarily work as a weight loss treatment, rather as a fat removal treatment, many people with moderate weight issues see this as a viable alternative.
Body Contouring – Fixing the Skin After Weight Loss
There are some alternatives that are more and some that are less invasive. The point of body contouring, though, whichever approach is taken, is to “change the shape, or contour, of a part of your body by removing excess skin and underlying fat. Procedures include liposuction, tummy tuck and panniculectomy, body lift, arm lift, thigh lift and more.” (Source). While the term broadly covers some of the procedures above, for the sake of this section we are really looking at those procedures that exist to help restore the body’s look after weight loss, rather than those that actually help with that loss. These focus on removing excess and hanging skin.
The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery has turned some real attention towards this as well. They note:
Losing a lot of weight is a great accomplishment and a step towards a healthier, more active life. However, excess, sagging skin can present a new challenge, keeping patients from fully enjoying the benefits of their weight loss. An experienced cosmetic surgeon can remove excess skin and restore more aesthetically pleasing body contours. Skin removal surgery includes a range of body contouring procedures performed after major weight loss to address excess skin folds on the arms, legs, torso and/or buttocks, helping patients achieve a more natural, aesthetically pleasing shape. If you are burdened by extra skin after losing weight, getting rid of it can dramatically enhance your comfort and self-confidence, help you exercise with greater ease, and improve the way clothing fits.
We all know that, as providers, we are well equipped to help clients get the weight off and fix their skin so that they don’t look like they lost a ton of weight. But what do we do to help those people keep their weight off?
Encouraging A Healthy Weight
Reader’s Digest is not usually the first source that we all turn to for advice on how to help our patients and clients, however, they published an amazing article that provides some great input on how you can help them stay at a good weight. 50 Things Your Doctors Wish You Knew About Weight Loss has enough substantive content and is an easy read that you can use yourself and recommend to clients.