Body contouring surgery also referred to as surgery following weight loss, involves a number of potential surgical procedures designed to address cosmetic concerns after significant weight loss.
Losing weight has a number of well-known health benefits. It reduces the risk of having heart disease, high blood pressure and some types of cancers, along with some other benefits too, such as improved self-esteem.
Weight loss can be achieved through lifestyle changes such as increased exercise, reduced dietary intake, or via surgery (e.g. bariatric surgery). Bariatric surgery to reduce weight, achieves this by either reducing how much you can eat (portions) or how much your body can absorb.
Please note that individual results will vary depending on the individual, their genetics and lifestyle factors, and all surgeries have associated risks. Before proceeding with any surgery, it is advisable to seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified medical practitioner such as a Plastic Surgeon. Dr. Gary Avery (MED0001633092) a registered medical practitioner, with specialist registration in Surgery – Plastic Surgery. Dr Avery is also a member of the two leading professional associations for plastic surgeons in Australia, Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS) and Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). Their websites provide additional information regarding plastic surgery in Australia that you might find useful, please visit ASAPS and ASPS.
Small fluctuations in weight, particularly when you are younger, are generally well tolerated and regulated by the body. Larger weight fluctuations may exceed the skin’s elastic ability to shrink with the weight loss resulting in excess skin that is loose, and in some cases excessively mobile (i.e. moves around on the body significantly).
This loose skin can produce a number of adverse physical symptoms, such as skin irritation and discomfort as well as having an effect on your psychological well-being, with a mismatch between your new internal self-image and health, and the left over skin and its physical challenges to manage.
The main purpose of body contouring or surgery following weight loss, is to remove the excess skin, while creating the least possible visible scars.
With the intention of achieving skin sitting closer to the frame of the body, a series of surgical procedures are performed to address cosmetic concerns and the ability to move and exercise.
Patients considering any form of body surgery will need to come in for a consultation with Dr Avery to discuss your expectations, along with the surgical options for how these can be achieved. During your consultation with the Avery team, we will ensure that the surgery you are considering is the appropriate choice for you.
At Avery, we welcome the opportunity to have an open conversation with you to understand the changes you are looking for with surgery. Our patients’ stories matter a great deal to us.
Wherever you are on your personal journey, we would like to assist you. Your reasons for having surgery and your expectations from surgery are important conversations to have before undergoing surgery. Dr Avery will also assess your health and medical history to ensure any surgical procedure you are considering is a safe and appropriate choice for you.
Your Body Contouring Surgery
Your GP or another specialist that knows you well must make a referral to Dr Avery. The decision to have a consultation may be made after talking with family or friends or following your own research into plastic surgery and Dr Avery.
The purpose of your initial consultation with Dr Avery is to discuss your motivations for surgery and expectations from surgery. It is an opportunity to openly communicate what you want to change, alleviate or remove. We will discuss any concerns you may have about your potential surgery and its outcome. We will also collect information that is specific and tailored to you, to add to the knowledge you acquired through your research outside of the consultation process.
When you arrive at Avery, you will check in with our Care Team and complete a medical history form, if not already completed. We encourage you to bring a supportive family member or friend who can remain with you throughout the consultation if you like, and be a sounding board during your decision-making process following the consultation.
The consultation with Dr Avery will include an examination of the area of your body that you are concerned with and considering changing. Our aim will be to determine if plastic surgery can achieve what you hope it will, and if so, what specific plastic surgery procedures will address your concerns and meet your expectations in a realistic way.
Plastic surgery procedures can impact physical appearance and there may be a psychological response to the changes in your body after surgery. Besides the reasons for having plastic surgery, it is important to be fully aware of any potential limitations of the operation and how they apply to your unique situation. This includes the risks of having surgery and all of the possible complications that can occur after surgery, and what can be done if these occur.
We will discuss what the surgery involves, how it relates to you specifically given your uniqueness and current state of health, what the possible risks of the surgery are, and then decide if having the surgery is a safe and appropriate choice for you as an individual.
Your consultation will also include a discussion of the estimated financial implications of having this surgery or surgeries that were discussed with Dr Avery.
After your consultation, our Care Team will be there to talk through any further questions you have, including the cost of the surgery.
At Avery, our goal is to ensure you are equipped with the knowledge needed for you to feel empowered throughout the decision-making process, surgery and post-surgery.
Your genes and lifestyle influence your body type and shape, including where excess body weight is distributed. Following significant weight loss, there are a number of common areas of the body that are prone to excess skin alone or in some combination. These include the abdomen and breasts, thighs, arms, neck, buttocks and back.
Depending on your individual goals and body type, the following surgeries are some of the procedures you might undergo during body contouring surgery:
Abdominoplasty surgery, also referred to as tummy tuck, consists of the removal and tightening of the abdomen skin, removal of excess fat where appropriate, and repositioning or tightening of the rectus abdominis muscles. The extent of these three components is tailored to individual requirements.
Find out more about how abdominoplasty surgery can restore the abdomen skin and muscles here.
Breast reduction surgery involves a combination of skin and breast tissue removal and reshaping. The surgery aims to reduce the size and weight of large breasts by lifting the breasts off the lower chest and upper abdomen. The objective is to leave the breasts smaller and lighter, sitting higher on the chest and closer to the body.
Discover here what is involved in breast reduction surgery and how this surgical procedure can help to address physical limitations and discomfort.
Augmentation mammoplasty, commonly referred to as breast augmentation is a surgical procedure that aims to increase the size, shape, or fullness of the breast using implants. Individuals might consider this surgery when they want to increase their breast volume, achieve a more rounded breast shape or address breast asymmetry.
Visit the breast augmentation surgery section to learn more about what to expect from this surgery.
A breast lift or mastopexy aims to create fuller breasts by raising the breasts on the chest and reshaping them. Get a deeper understanding of what is involved during breast lift surgery here.
Breast lift surgery with breast implants combines breast augmentation surgery with a breast lift. The aim is to increase volume, shape and fullness (breast augmentation) while raising the position and altering the shape of the breast.
As with all surgical procedures, body contouring surgery does have risks, despite the highest standards of practice. It is not usual for any surgeon to outline every possible side effect or rare complication of a surgical procedure. However, it is important that you have enough information about the most common risks to fully weigh up the benefits, risks, and limitations of surgery.
The following possible complications are listed to inform and not to alarm you. There may be other complications that are not listed. Smoking, obesity, and other significant medical problems will cause greater risk of complications.
Some general risks and possible complications of surgery include, but are not limited to the following:
- Heavy bleeding from an operated site. This may require a blood transfusion.
- Infection that may require treatment with antibiotics or further surgery in some cases.
- Allergic reaction to sutures, dressings or antiseptic solutions.
- The formation of a large blood clot (haematoma) beneath an incision site may require further surgery.
- Complications such as heart attack, pulmonary embolism or stroke may be caused by a blood clot, which can be life threatening.
- Pain, bruising and swelling around the operated site(s).
- Slow healing, often related to smoking or diabetes.
- Short-term nausea following general anaesthesia and other risks related to anaesthesia.
- Tissue cannot heal without scarring and that how one scars is dependent on individual genetic characteristics. Dr Avery will do his best to minimise scarring but cannot control its ultimate appearance.
- Smoking or using nicotine products during the 3–4-week pre-operative and post-operative periods is prohibited as these could dramatically increase the chances of complications.
- All medications I am currently taking, including prescriptions, over the counter remedies, herbal therapies and supplements, aspirin, and any other recreational drug or alcohol use can affect the safety of my surgery.
- There can be no guarantees about the results of any surgery.
Specific risks for body contouring surgery would depend on the specific surgery that Dr Avery performs. These specific risks can be found under abdominoplasty, circumferential body lift, arm lift, thigh lift and breast lift.
The Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS) has further information about body contouring surgery including the possible risks for this surgery.
Several nights in hospital are generally required post-surgery to aid with your recovery. Depending on the complexity of the surgery and any additional procedures, up to 2-4weeks off work may also be recommended.
There will be some bruising and swelling, which generally subsides about 2 weeks after the operation. You will be required to wear a compression garment or bandages for approximately 6 weeks to provide support and reduce post-operative pain or swelling.
A customised pain relief program will be created for you and issued before you leave the hospital. If circumstances change at any stage during the recovery period, then the pain medication can certainly be adjusted accordingly.
Scars from surgery following weight loss will vary depending on the area being operated on and how well your skin copes with scarring. There are different incisions needed depending on the surgery (breast, face, abdomen, thighs, etc). These incisions once healed, become scars.
The financial aspects of your surgery are as important as the medical elements when planning for surgery. At Avery, the surgeries we offer fall into three different financial categories: Self-funded – aesthetic surgery; self-funded – plastic and reconstructive surgery; and health insured – plastic and reconstructive surgery.
To make sense of these three financial categories, we have created a detailed price guide to help you understand what may or may not be covered by your health insurer/Medicare and your out of pocket expenses.
For more information or to book a consultation, please contact our team on 02 4002 4150.
Body Contouring FAQs
The best time to proceed with body contouring surgery is when your weight loss is mostly complete, and your weight has been stable for several months. If you have had surgery to help achieve weight loss, you may be required to wait at least a year before body contouring surgery.
It is possible to have a consultation regarding potential surgery during your weight loss journey, i.e., before your weight loss has stabilised, to explore your options.
It is possible to combine surgical procedures to multiple areas in one operation. Surgery to the abdomen and breasts is one such combination that may be safely combined, depending on the unique circumstances of the individual. There are some Medicare and health insurance restrictions to certain combinations of surgeries performed at one time.
The key considerations of combining surgery are:
- the safety and length of the surgery.
- the influence more extensive surgery may have on the ultimate outcome.
- the required recovery period.
The potential surgical combinations will depend on your personal goals and requirements. If you are considering surgery to multiple areas, the order in which you may undergo these will also depend on what is clinically recommended to most likely achieve the desired outcome.
Body contouring surgery is performed under a general anaesthetic given by a specialist anaesthetist in an accredited private hospital.
Body contouring surgery is a permanent surgical procedure; however, it does not prevent future weight gain and the lifestyle factors that influence this.
Revision surgery is a risk for any surgery. In surgeries where large areas of skin are removed to change body contour, where the removal stops and one body area transitions into another, there is a risk that the contour is improved but a small irregularity remains. Further surgery may be required and can vary from a small revision surgery to new surgery, which involves this next body area. For a full list of risks associated with body contouring surgery, visit the risks section on this service page.
Simply walking is advised and is recommended during the first 2 weeks after surgery. An increase in activity is encouraged between 2-6 weeks, limiting this increase based on how your body feels and responds. From 6 weeks you can be mostly unrestricted with exercise but it may not be until 12 weeks following surgery that you feel you are back to pre-surgery fitness, or even improved from your pre-surgery fitness if physical symptoms and restrictions have been addressed with surgery.
Pain following surgery will vary depending on the extent of surgery. Pain immediately after surgery may be reduced by the use of local anaesthetic at the surgical site given during the surgery. The pain will also be managed with tablets or injections as required. Physical measures such as the dressings and for some surgeries, supportive garments, as well as limited movement and possibly ice packs will all help minimise any pain. Pain is usually well tolerated within a few days after surgery with all these measures. If your pain is increasing following surgery this is usually a sign that you may need a review to ensure your recovery is proceeding as expected.
Dressings and in some cases surgical garments will offer support to the wounds and the areas of your body that are still recovering. You will be also be advised to restrict excessive movement of the surgical area in the first two weeks after surgery. A good general rule throughout your recovery is if an increase in movement or activity does not increase any discomfort or swelling, then it is probably safe and this gradual progression back to ‘normal’ will be encouraged.
Typically, if your surgery is considered cosmetic in nature and does not have a related item number, private health insurance does not cover this surgery. If the surgery is being considered to address significant developmental differences, changes from previous trauma, or to relieve nasal obstruction, then a Medicare item number may apply to the surgery and there may be some cover of this procedure through private health insurance.
Sun exposure can adversely impact early wound healing and have an adverse effect on the pigmentation and long-term quality of you scar(s). All scars should be protected from sun until they are mature, which may not be until one-year post-surgery. A spray tan is okay after a few weeks (once the wound is healed).
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Your initial consultation
During your initial consultation we welcome the opportunity to have an open conversation with you to understand the changes you are looking for with your surgery and talk through any concerns or specific goals you may have.
Your initial consultation will include an examination of the area of concern and we'll work with you to determine if plastic surgery can achieve what you hope it will, and which specific plastic surgery procedures will address your concerns and meet your expectations in a realistic way.
The procedure may be combined with other aesthetic surgical procedures such as body lifts, abdominoplasty and mummy makeovers.