Will You Need Reconstructive Plastic Surgery After Dramatic Weight Loss?

Will You Need Reconstructive Plastic Surgery After Dramatic Weight Loss?

With weight gain, the skin stretches to accommodate underlying excess muscle and fat. After weight-loss, skin tries to recoil or bounce back. The amount of skin bounce back essentially determines if you will need reconstructive plastic surgery. If there is great recoil ability in the skin, the skin bounces back and one probably will not need reconstructive plastic surgery. If however, the skin does not shrink back, then you will probably need reconstructive plastic surgery.

Understanding the Skin

The ability for skin to recoil is due in part to the elastic fibers within skin. During childhood, this skin stretching ability allows us to grow without having to shed our outer skin. The contractile forces of skin also allow skin to bounce back after such natural things as childbirth. Skin possesses naturally occurring elastic fibers, which act similar to the elastic fibers in a rubber band. The effect of weight gain on skin is similar to the effect of pulling a rubber band. With enough constant stretch applied, the fibers in the rubber band become disrupted or break.

With weight gain, the skin is similarly stretched and the elastic fibers are disrupted. After weight-loss or after removing the load from the rubber band, the elastic fibers contract, but only so much. In either case, the result is a reflection of the ability of the elastic fibers to completely contract.

Determining if Your Skin Will Recoil

The main factor determining skin recoil is the amount of stretch. Even if skin recoil is excellent, the ability of the skin to recoil may be ruined by the amount of stretch. Typically, the more significant the stretch on the skin, the less likely the skin will shrink back completely. Thus, the more weight you lose, the more likely you will need plastic surgery. Everything else being equal, the skin of a person who loses 600 pounds is different from one that loses 100 pounds. The person who loses 600 pounds is much more likely to need reconstructive plastic surgery.

The second major factor determining skin recoil is your skin’s age. Younger skin has better elastic properties and thus, has more inherent abilities to spring back. Conversely, older skin is less likely to recoil. Expecting your skin to completely shrink back to the way your tummy looked when you were 20 years old after a 100-pound weight-loss is unrealistic. Skin age is determined by your physical age and factors, which have accelerated the age of your skin. These accelerators of skin aging are the topic of much medical research. These are minor factors in comparison to amount of stretch and age of skin. However, these minor factors all contribute to the need for reconstructive plastic surgery. skinage

Minor factors accelerating skin aging include:

  • Sun damage
  • Smoking
  • Malnutrition
  • Poor vitamin intake (especially vitamin C)
  • Your genetic skin type


The Psychiatric Component

There is also sometimes a psychiatric component to the need for reconstructive plastic surgery after weight-loss. For some people it is not about the amount of excess skin. Some patients feel “fat” even after a 100-pound weight-loss and excellent skin recoil. For these patients, the “need” to have reconstructive plastic surgery is different. This “need” is an emotional one.

Reconstructive Plastic Surgery is a Personal Choice

Only you will know if you need reconstructive plastic surgery. No one else can tell you – not your family, nor your friends. You may not even know if you need reconstructive plastic surgery until your weight-loss is complete. Reconstructive plastic surgery after weight-loss is a personal choice. Always remember, the most important decision you have made has been to lose weight.

Doctor Robert Marvin is an experienced Surgeon who specializes in Minimally-Invasive Surgery (Laparoscopic Surgery) for the cure of Morbid Obesity. To learn more, or to schedule an appointment please call, (713)993-7124 .

1 Comment
  • Joy Butler
    Posted at 17:31h, 09 January Reply

    It is interesting that there is a possibility for a patient to have a psychiatric component to necessitate reconstructive plastic surgery. It can be damaging to the mind of an individual who has lost a drastic amount of weight because of the distorted view of the body that excess skin can provide. It could be a good idea to seek a psychiatric evaluation when determining the need for reconstructive plastic surgery.

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