Once you’ve lost all that weight, it’s normal to be anxious about putting the finishing touches on your new body. We would love to have you in for a consultation to discuss your goals and all of the possibilities. However, in order to set you up for success after any surgeries, we need to be sure that your weight has stabilized. This means that you’ll need to wait for about six months before moving ahead with any procedures. This can certainly be frustrating, but fluctuations in weight post-surgery will negatively affect your results, which would be a shame!
Let’s review some other important considerations to make:
Just like the decision to undergo weight loss surgery, there is a lot to think about when considering restorative follow-up procedures. It can be a lengthy process, involving multiple surgeries that affect many areas of the body. That means a renewed commitment to the time and effort required for recovery, which may impact not only you, but your friends and family as well. It probably took you a year or two to lose weight. It may take just as long for your body contouring results to be fully revealed.
There are several things to think about when arranging all of the moving parts for your procedure and recovery.
Length of Recovery Time
You will need to set aside enough time away from your work and home responsibilities so that you can recover with few distractions. Dr. Harris will explain the limitations that are recommended for each of the procedures in your surgical plan. If your job or other responsibilities involve strenuous activity, you may need extra time to recover, to prevent any undue discomfort or delay.
Vacations or Special Events
You should be fully healed before venturing out, for safety as well as appearance reasons. Keep in mind you will be undergoing multiple surgeries, each with a unique recovery period. Procedures of or near the face can leave bruising, swelling, and redness - you’ll want to leave time for these to fade before stepping in front of any shutterbugs!
Your Caregiver’s Schedule
We recommend that someone stay with you at all times for at least 48 hours after your procedure. This time is crucial for optimal recovery, and getting help will relieve stress so you can focus on healing. The longer you have some assistance around, the easier recovery will be. We’ll talk more about that below.
Time in Compression Garments
Recovery for many of your procedures will require that you wear a compression garment. These are used to support the skin and underlying tissue as it heals and to help reduce swelling, both of which help speed and improve the recovery process. How long you will have to wear a compression garment varies according to the type of surgery, but it could be anywhere from a short period to 3-4 months.
It is vital that you understand what is involved, the risks as well as potential benefits and, above all, the kind of results that surgery can realistically produce. Surgery can transform your body, but there is no such thing as perfection. Each person has specific reasons for considering post-massive weight loss surgery. You will discuss your concerns, desires, expectations, and priorities with Dr. Harris at your private consultation. He will explain the risks involved with this process as well as the benefits you can achieve and the recovery process for each procedure. Then he will recommend a surgical plan tailored just for you. He will combine the procedures you choose when possible – for example face/neck lift along with arm lift – but he will start with those procedures that you have deemed a priority.
By now, you have studied before and after photos of similar patients, so you have a realistic idea of the improvements you might expect to see. Perfection is unrealistic, but you will look and feel so much better.
Going into Surgery
Convenience and comfort matter. They can go a long way toward making your surgical experience a positive one. At Image Surgical Arts, our patients appreciate the fact that we do everything in house. Our clinic and state-of-the-art surgical center are located together, so there is no need to go to a hospital.
To prepare for your surgery, we may give you antibiotics to take ahead of time or ask you to avoid aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs, herbals or other products that could increase risk of bleeding. And if you smoke, you will need to quit at least 6 weeks ahead of time.
We perform all surgeries under general anesthesia in our own accredited, state-of-the-art surgical center, so it is familiar and convenient for patients. You will arrive and go home the same day, so you’ll need someone to drive you.
The surgical steps are essentially the same, regardless of which parts of the body are being addressed, though there will be some variations. In some cases, Dr. Harris may augment his surgical techniques to further enhance recovery and results. For example:
- For breast procedures, he injects platelet-rich plasma to help reduce the appearance of scars. This is entirely safe since PRP is made from a small sample of your own blood.
- For a face and/or neck lift, he may recommend fat transfer to restore volume under the eyes. Rounder features make you look younger and refreshed instead of hollows that can give you a gaunt appearance.
Before beginning any surgery, Dr. Harris will draw marks on your body that will serve as a template for his work. Surgeons almost always do this, but Dr. Harris takes it a step further. He often uses liposuction to remove some fat first, so he can refine his incision plan and remove the maximum amount of excess skin and fat. Then, before he finalizes this work, he uses staples to temporarily close incisions, to see how you will look. This enables him to make adjustments to produce even better contouring results before he permanently closes.
The duration of your surgery will vary according to the number and type of procedures in each stage of your surgical plan. A tummy tuck is the most extensive procedure, and it can take 3 to 4 hours. We noted earlier that Dr. Harris incorporates 360° liposuction with tummy tucks for all-around contouring that smooths the lower and mid-back, back bra roll, waist, hips, mons and upper and lower abdomen. He almost always uses liposuction during other post-weight loss procedures as well, to create the most pleasing, natural looking contours.
When the surgical steps are complete, Dr. Harris will place one or two drains as he closes the incisions, to release any build up of fluid. You may be placed in a compression garment, then we will move you to the recovery room where one of our nurses will monitor you until it is safe for you to go home. Dr. Harris will see you back in the office the following morning to check on your surgical sites, show you how to do your first dressing change, make sure all is well, and answer any questions you may have.
Availability of Aftercare
You will need help from a friend or family member, especially at first. That includes physical and emotional support, both of which are important for healing.You will need to have a responsible adult with you at all times for the first 48 hours at least. You will need assistance with daily basics at first, and you will want (and deserve) some extra pampering.
We will give you detailed written instructions for self-care after you return home. We will go over everything with you before you leave, to be sure you understand – that said, you should feel free to call any time you have questions or concerns. You can read more about the recovery process below.
It is crucial that you follow all of your at-home instructions because there is an important reason behind every detail. You can also take other steps to ensure your recovery goes as quickly and successfully as possible:
Before your surgery, designate a spot as your recovery headquarters – a place where you can relax comfortably (a recliner is a good choice, but a chair and ottoman or cushy sofa are also good options), with water, medications, TV or movies or a good book within easy reach.
At first, movement will be restricted by your own body and by our home care instructions, but short walks and deep breathing exercises are vital. This promotes circulation of blood and oxygen that support healing, keeps your lungs clear and reduces risk of blood clots. Follow your instructions, but don’t overdo it.