Look as Good as You Feel
Even if you eat well and exercise, the appearance of excess skin and fat on certain parts of our bodies may hold us back from feeling our best. This sagging skin can affect your ability to be active, the way you look in clothes, or your self-esteem — even if you are otherwise in good health.
John P. Fischer, MD, MPH, of Penn Plastic Surgery, calls this feeling a “disconnect.” Dr. Fischer often sees patients with both moderate and dramatic weight loss, both from diet and exercise and from bariatric surgery. While these people, he says, “are much physiologically healthier, they still don’t feel healthy because of the extra skin they are carrying.”
Body contouring or sculpting procedures can lift and tighten parts of your body that change as you age, gain weight, or even lose weight, helping you look as good as you feel. These procedures include liposuction, arm lift, breast lift, thigh lift, face lift or a lower abdomen lift (also called a “tummy tuck”). Some of these can be combined into one surgery, depending on your goals and your surgeon’s plan. For example, the “Mommy Makeover” combines a variety of procedures designed to restore your pre-pregnancy figure.
Getting a Lift, Inside and Out
Dr. Fischer is part of the Body Contouring After Weight Loss Program at Penn Medicine, which incorporates research into its highly individualized patient care. He has found that removal of excess skin after weight loss can dramatically improve a person’s physical and mental wellbeing.
“I can tell you from my personal and clinical experience how impactful these contouring operations can be for patients. These patients have a transformative improvement in their overall quality of life as a direct result of surgery.”
“People who have lost 20 to 50 lbs can derive as good, if not better benefits,” Dr. Fischer continues. “It’s great to take care of these patients, because they’ve obviously improved their overall health and now we’re helping them align the way they look and feel with their newfound, improved health.”
Consider Your Body Contouring Goals
Penn Plastic Surgery’s approach for each patient starts by asking about their goals: What do they want to achieve through body contouring surgery? Have they recently lost a significant amount of weight, or are they just looking to contour a specific part of their body with a single cosmetic procedure, such as a tummy tuck?
“The way I approach these types of patients and cosmetic surgery in general is to try to understand what the patient’s goals are and to see if a surgical operation aligns effectively with what they want to achieve.”
Getting to know each patient is especially important to Penn Medicine surgeons, because they firmly believe in being patient advocates and approaching each patient as an individual. This can mean working with insurance companies to get approval for body contouring, if necessary.
“We really want to see insurance companies support their members,” Dr. Fischer adds. “And we really want to see patients derive the benefits of their insurance companies’ policies.”
Recovery and Renewal
Typically, body contouring procedures are outpatient operations. Patients may leave the surgical center or hospital the same day. For the most part, Dr. Fischer says, patients will be back to themselves and enjoying a full range of activities within a month.
However, recovery time at home depends on which part of the body was treated. Work on the abdominal wall that involves tightening muscles means holding off on heavy lifting for about six weeks. Generally, you can expect to lay low for one to six weeks after a body contouring procedure.
With the recent coronavirus vaccine rollout, many of us are thinking about the next phase of life: Getting out and reaping the rewards of focusing on our health. For surgeons like Dr. Fischer, body contouring can be a way to help people take the next step to complete their self-care journey.
“Our committed mission is to align how people feel about their health with how healthy they actually are.”
Penn Plastic Surgery Bryn Mawr
Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine
Photography by: Penn Medicine