Monday, October 16, 2006

Weight Loss Surgery Hang-Ups

BACKGROUND: For morbidly obese patients who have tried just about everything to lose weight, bariatric surgery, or gastric bypass surgery, may seem like the perfect solution. While the procedure is very effective in helping patients lose weight and overcome risk factors for heart disease, there are a lot of post-surgery factors to take into consideration. What once seemed like a solution is actually turning out to be the initial step in reshaping both bodies and attitudes.

Every year more than 100,000 Americans undergo gastric bypass surgery. But as more and more people go under the knife, experience reveals that gastric bypass is just the beginning of many more surgeries to come. After the first change of body image, losing the weight, many patients will need to undergo a second change, the process of body contouring surgery. Plastic surgeon, Christopher Prevel, M.D., from the Florida Plastic Surgery Institute says the most common procedures after bariatric surgery are body-contouring procedures. They often consist of a limited or extended abdominoplasty. The abdominoplasty is usually combined with a thigh and buttock lift, thus forming the phrase "lower body lift."

Not all of these procedures are medically necessary, however. "They are all elective in the sense that they are not emergency procedures," says Prevel. In some rarer cases, there are medically necessary procedures. Prevel adds, "Some body contouring procedures are because of chronic infections in the skin, or rashes, or the weight that extra skin from the abdominal wall causes to the groin or the thighs."

In addition to the common side effects of bariatric surgery, there are risks if a patient gains weight post-body contouring surgery. Adversely, If a patient gains back roughly more than 15 pounds, the skin can expand and they will lose the body contour they once had. Also, if a patient loses weight, their skin shifts and they may have to have what's called a revisionary procedure to achieve the result that they had beforehand. "I try to advise folks that surgery is a journey it's not a destination," Dr. Prevel says.

DOCTOR'S ORDERS: - Seek consultations with board certified plastic surgeons, American Board of Plastic Surgery, who are trained and qualified to do the procedure.

- Ask the number of procedures that the surgeon has performed to be certain that the surgeon has experience in performing that procedure.

- Be certain the facility is an accredited facility at a state or a national level

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