What Are the Pros and Cons of Cosmetic Surgery after Bariatric Surgery?

Kelly Ferguson

Many people choose to get cosmetic surgery after bariatric surgery to remove the large amount of loose skin that can be left behind after successful weight loss. For some people who have committed to a healthy lifestyle of diet and exercise, having the excess skin removed can mean the beginning of a new life away from any physical or psychological effects of obesity. The removal of the often uncomfortable skin can also make exercising and continuing in this new lifestyle much easier and more pleasant. Others, however, may choose not to have the skin removed because of the high financial cost of the procedure, because of the extensive recovery time required, or because of the possible risks of the surgery.

Cosmetic surgery may be necessary after bariatric surgery to remove excess skin.
Cosmetic surgery may be necessary after bariatric surgery to remove excess skin.

The benefits of having cosmetic surgery after bariatric surgery are more than just aesthetic, although a better appearance is definitely a common motivation. Many formerly obese individuals never feel completely satisfied with their weight loss while the excess skin remains. Self-esteem issues and dissatisfaction with their appearance, when combined with the discomfort and even pain that exercising with a large amount of loose skin can cause, often hinders bariatric patients' diet and exercise attempts badly enough that some or all of the weight is regained. Having this constant emotional reminder and physical discomfort removed can literally free a person from any remnants of his or her struggle with obesity.

Cosmetic surgery after bariatric surgery does have its drawbacks, however. As with any cosmetic surgery procedure, it can be very expensive and often not covered by insurance. Many bariatric patients who wish to have excess skin removed may not even have the option because the procedure is too expensive. Additionally, two or more expensive surgeries are sometimes needed to address all of the areas of the body that have excess skin. Even for patients who can afford to pay for the procedure, the financial strain might become too great when taking into consideration the time off from work and other activities that will be necessary for recovery.

The risks of having cosmetic surgery after bariatric surgery include infection, swelling, blood clots, and many other complications, some more serious than others. Aesthetically undesirable results, such as lumpiness, asymmetry, and very visible scarring, are also risks. Additionally, patients who have not completely committed to healthier lifestyle habits may be at risk for regaining some of the weight lost with the bariatric surgery, and may stretch out the skin again, negating the benefits of cosmetic surgery.

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