15 Best Surgical Procedures for Loose Skin (Post-Weight Loss)

If you’re someone who’s lost a significant amount of weight, such as 100 pounds or more, you may be struggling with extra or loose skin and plastic surgery is one option to consider for removal of the skin. Whether the skin is located on your thighs, arms, glutes, or tummy, there are ways to have it removed.

Cosmetic surgery can help you obtain a firmer, trimmer shape. So whether you’re considering a tummy tuck, augmentation, or other types of body contouring, it’s best to know your options so that you can make the best decision.

1. Radiofrequency treatment

Radiofrequency is a minimally invasive method of radiofrequency that involves the placement of tiny tubes through small incisions into the skin to deliver heat to areas that need tightening.

This procedure is often performed by doctors on the neck and upper arms. Results can be seen in as little as one month. Most people will need to wear compression bandages for approximately 4-5 days following the procedure.

2. Pulsed intense light

Intense pulsed light is often combined with radiofrequency to improve the effectiveness of skin treatment. To see the best results, a patient might need several intense pulsed light treatments. This is not recommended for people with darker skin tones and tanned skin.

3. Laser resurfacing

Laser resurfacing is one of the best non-surgical and minimally invasive treatments for minor cases of loose skin. Most people need to rest for 5-7 days after the procedure. Usually, results are visible two weeks later. There is a slight risk of scarring with laser resurfacing.

4. Body contouring surgery

A plastic surgeon performs body contouring surgery. This involves the removal of excess skin and fat. Your body will look smoother if the surgeon can improve the shape of any remaining tissue. There are many types of body contouring surgery depending on the amount of excess skin you have and where it is located.

General anesthesia is required for body contouring surgeries. Patients usually stay one night at the hospital. After you’re discharged from the hospital, you might need a drainage tube to drain excess fluid and compression clothing. Although recovery can take many months (anywhere from 2-8), most patients feel better within four weeks

If you are able to maintain a healthy weight and have not suffered from any serious medical issues, body contouring may be the right option for you. People who aren’t smokers have better results than those who exercise and eat healthy diets.

5. Panniculectomy (removal of abdominal skin)

Many people who lose weight end up with an “apron” of skin that hangs below their belly button. This is called a pannus. Panniculectomy is a procedure that removes the apron skin and restores a firmer, smoother torso. This incision is located just above your pubic bone and is very similar to a tummy-tuck. A panniculectomy is a procedure that can improve the comfort of a patient and make clothing fit better. However, it won’t significantly tighten abdominal contours if performed alone.

6. Lower body lift

Lower body lifts tighten the tissues around the abdomen, buttocks and thighs. This is the most popular post-weight loss procedure and one of the longest. The surgery involves a long incision that runs around the circumference.

It is located just above the hip bone. This incision is used to tighten the abdominal muscles, similar to a tummy-tuck, remove excess skin from the back and front of the torso and lift the tissues to give the lower body a firmer and more defined appearance.

7. Lift your thighs and buttocks

A lot of people lose weight quickly, resulting in excess skin around the thighs and buttocks. Thigh and buttock lifting removes excess fat and skin, and gives legs and buttocks a firmer, more smooth appearance. This can make jeans and shorts more comfortable and give the legs and lower bodies a more youthful appearance.

The location and extent of the skin being removed will determine which incisions are made for thigh or buttock surgery. A skilled cosmetic surgeon will incisions at the most discreet places, such as the groin or the natural crease under the buttocks. Scars can also be hidden by wearing a swimsuit.

8. Upper body lifts

The upper body’s extra skin can lead to “bra rolls,” sagging breasts or hanging skin. These areas can be treated with upper body lift surgery to restore a more youthful look. There are many options for procedures:

9. Arm lift

An incision is made along the underside to remove excess fat and loose skin. This will give the upper arms a firmer and more defined appearance.

10. Back lift/bra line lift

This combination of liposuction with skin removal is often used to reduce “bra rolls” in the upper back and restore a firmer, smoother contour. The bra line is where most incisions are located. Scars can easily be covered by clothing.

11. Breast lift surgery

Breast lift surgery is a popular option for women who are unhappy with their “deflated” or sagging breasts after weight loss. Breast lifts remove excess skin and shape the breasts to improve symmetry and contour. To increase or restore volume, breast implants can be placed in a breast lift.

Now, let’s look at a few other non-invasive or minimally invasive procedures.

12. Skin laser resurfacing

Laser resurfacing uses lasers–just like laser therapy. However, it sends heat further into the skin’s lower layers. It stimulates collagen growth beneath the skin’s surface and removes old, damaged skin cells. It then uses your body’s natural healing process for a fractional replacement of damaged skin cells with healthy, new, fresh skin.

As your body heals, this process is repeated. Laser resurfacing can be a great choice for moderate to severe sagging. Two laser resurfacing options are available: Fraxel Restore, Dual Treatment, and Clear + Brilliant.

13. vShape Ultra

During this treatment, two different radio frequencies are applied via ultrasound to the skin during vShape treatments. These frequencies can be used to affect both the top and the deeper layers of the skin. Deep heat promotes collagen production and tightens the skin.

It can be used anywhere there is loose skin, even around the face. This allows you the flexibility to focus on the areas that you need to firm up. The best results can also be achieved by technicians who are able to target specific areas of the skin.

The procedure causes minimal discomfort. Most patients feel a mild vibration and heat in the treated area. If vShape is applied to thin skin, redness and swelling can occur. It is not necessary to rest for the recovery process.6

Patients typically require six to eight sessions (ranging anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes each), and collagen continues to be produced for as long as six months. Six to seven treatments can last up to three years.

14. ThermiTight

Radio frequency is also used in this minimally invasive procedure to stimulate your body’s natural collagen production. Local anesthesia is applied to the areas where you wish to tighten loose skin. This could be your neck, breasts or abdomen.

ThermiTight has one advantage over vShape: It only takes one treatment session. This non-surgical option for skin tightening can cause side effects such as skin rash (erythema), pain at the frequency of application, and swelling due to trapped fluid (aka “edema”). These issues may take several weeks to resolve.

ThermiTight results can last for three to five years, but it is possible to need to be repeated due to normal aging. Depending on where you live, the cost of ThermiTight is typically between $1,600 and $5,000.

15. VelaShape

VelaShape uses a slightly different technology. The VelaShape machine uses a combination of infrared, pulsed vacuum and bi-polar radio frequency to tighten the skin.

It aims to reduce cellulite appearance by stimulating collagen and elastin production. The result is a smoother abdomen and thighs, as well as a toned body. The procedure works best for those with a lower body mass index ( aka “BMI”) than 30.

As you can see, you have quite a few options when it comes to tightening or getting rid of loose skin. It’s best to thoroughly research any option ahead of time and to consider the long-term effects as well as recovery times.

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