Archive for May, 2011
Coastal Cosmetic Center changes people’s lives with post-bariatric weight loss surgery
Surgical weight loss is one of the best options for those who are morbidly obese. But while most people simply focus on the goal of weight loss, Dr.’s Timothy Fee, M.D., William A. Wallace , M.D., and Leonard Spillert, M.D., of Coastal Cosmetic Center remind patients that weight loss is only part of the battle. Once you lose all the weight, you may have to contend with excess skin, which causes a host of problems for people.
“Once the skin loses its elasticity, if it overstretches, it won’t shrink back,” explains Dr. Fee. “So people who have lost a lot of weight are frequently left with large masses of loose, hanging skin on their legs, stomach, back and arms.”
In fact, many post-bariatric surgery patients complain that it’s hard to be mobile when they have large rolls of skin they’re trying to manage. Too much excess skin can even impede their ability to exercise and carry on with normal daily functions. In some cases, even though they may have lost 100 or more pounds, all the excess skin makes patients feel as if they’re still overweight.
“Additionally, when those layers of skin lay across each other, particularly when it’s hot and humid out, people can develop skin breakdown and rashes across the creases,” Dr. Wallace says. “So this excess skin can also cause pain and discomfort to an individual.”
That’s why the physicians at Coastal Cosmetic Center have started the Coastal Obesity Center – a full service plastic surgery center that specializes in post-bariatric weight loss surgery. By utilizing post-bariatric surgery contouring techniques, including body lifts and other body sculpting procedures, the physicians are able to remove drooping skin left behind after weight loss surgery. Often, plastic surgeons are able to shift excess tissues to fill or support deficient areas such as breasts or the buttocks without the use of implants.
“The ideal time to look into post-bariatric weight loss surgery is nine months to one year after the initial bariatric surgery,” says Dr. Fee. “That’s typically when people’s weight begins to stabilize. Also, this is major surgery, so people need to coordinate their schedules with family and work obligations. It’s not something to be taken lightly or rushed into.” He also adds that those who have lost weight via the Lap Band method may need to wait longer for their weight to stabilize, since the weight comes off slower with the Lap Band.
While the concept of post-bariatric weight loss surgery may seem very cut and dry, the doctors stress that this surgery is more complex than it initially seems. “You have to re-drape and re-contour the skin envelope over the new body,” explains Dr. Wallace. “That’s a challenge. Additionally, no two patients are alike in terms of what you’re going to do and how the operation will proceed.”
Fortunately, the majority of patients who seek out this surgery are very positive and upbeat about the process. “While some people are surprised by the amount of excess skin they have after weight loss surgery, they are not discouraged,” says Dr. Spillert. “They often have other medical problems due to their weight, and many of those problems disappear after the weight is gone. There are so many positive things from the weight loss that they view the excess skin as just one more step on their weight loss journey.”
Since the excess skin accumulates all over the body, most people opt to have multiple areas of their body operated on at one time. Dr. Spillert explains that most people start out wanting their abdomen reconstructed, and then they move onto their breasts, thighs, arms and face. “We try to do as many areas as we can in one surgery,” he says, “but we can’t do everything at once and most people require a few surgeries before removing all the excess skin.”
Dr. Fee concurs. “We mix and match procedures to focus on needs. We try to keep in mind that these operations aren’t always completely covered by insurance. So if there’s a way to consolidate procedures into one day at the body shop, people can get a lot of things done and in the long run save some money.”
While the amount of excess skin removed varies by person, Dr. Wallace says “it’s not uncommon for the doctors to remove anywhere from 7 to 20 pounds of excess skin from someone. In extreme cases, we’ve removed up to 80 pounds or more of excess skin and fat from a single patient!”
As obesity levels in the world continue to rise and more people undergo bariatric surgery, the need for post-bariatric weight loss surgery will increase too. With that said, Dr. Fee cautions people that these types of surgeries aren’t your typical tummy tuck, so patients need to choose a surgeon wisely. “Morbid obesity is a disease, and you have to respect the disease,” says Dr. Fee. “This is a sub-specialty of plastic surgery that requires advanced training. Therefore, you want to choose a physician who does a large volume of these types of surgeries.”
According to Dr. Spillert, the most rewarding part of doing these surgeries is to see the physical and emotional changes in people. “It miraculous to see the transformation patients go through,” he says. “Their whole lifestyle has been impacted. We’re a small part of it, but we do help them look and feel better about themselves.”