Cosmetic Surgery to Lift the Body… and the Spirit

Written by Robin Frank  |  19. May 2003

Losing a tremendous amount of weight is a life-altering experience. With dieting, exercise and determination, some people lose 50, 60, even 100 pounds or more. Increasing numbers of severely overweight people are also turning to gastric bypass or another type of obesity surgery for help. While such weight loss can make one healthier and happier, for many the "transformation" is incomplete. Bariatric, or weight loss surgery, is not a cosmetic procedure. It is performed by a general surgeon to lower the health risks associated with obesity. With extreme weight loss, a large amount of excess skin is often left behind. So, for many patients, the next step is a visit to a plastic surgeon. Dr. Lyle Leipziger, chief of the division of plastic surgery at North Shore University Hospital and Long Island Jewish Medical Center, has seen an increase in consultations among people considering a "body lift" to remove excess hanging skin after a big weight loss. "Many people are left with a kind of apron of skin around their midsection, and this excess skin tends to cause problems," Dr. Leipziger said. "In addition to being bothersome or even embarrassing because of the way it looks, people may have trouble buying clothing, engaging in certain activities, even walking. The hanging skin is sometimes prone to infection, as well." A body lift can rid patients of the excess skin and result in a much more pleasing appearance. "Depending on where the excess skin appears, we can eliminate it. Sometimes it is eliminated around the entire midsection, possibly around the back as well, so that the buttocks and thighs are also lifted," Dr. Leipziger says. Just as bariatric surgery is a serious operation reserved only for those who are severely overweight, Dr. Leipziger notes that a body lift is major surgery. Patients usually spend two days in the hospital and can resume activities of daily living, such as shopping and carrying groceries in two to four weeks. They can start exercising about six weeks after the operation. For most patients, losing an extreme amount of weight can make them feel much better from a health standpoint, and it can raise their self-esteem. But for many, that's only half the battle. "When they step on the scale, they are delighted with the result of their weight loss. However, what they see in the mirror doesn't always reflect their hard work," Dr. Leipziger says. "They want to look as good as they now feel, and the body lift can help them achieve that. Some people experience a remarkable boost in self-confidence as a result." After the body lift, many patients say they feel like a new person. They are motivated to follow an exercise program to maintain good health and to enhance their new look. For more information or to schedule a consultation with Dr. Leipziger on body lift surgery or another type of cosmetic procedure, please call 516-465-8787.

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