There are a variety of concerns, which contribute to the answer as to when it is the best time to have elective plastic surgery after massive weight loss.
Approach Your Goal Weight
First, it is important to wait until there has been satisfactory weight loss before having surgery to remove the excess skin. Depending on the bariatric surgery that was performed, it generally takes at least one year for the majority of the excess weight to come off. It seems to take longer for gastric banding procedures and less time for gastric bypass surgeries. You should be near your goal weight when you have your first procedure. Often times, it is those last few pounds, which are composed of the excess skin that is removed with a tummy tuck or body lift surgery.
Once you have determined that you have lost close to all of your excess weight, it is then important to wait until your weight has stabilized at least for several months before considering having a tummy tuck, breast lift, thighplasty or arm lift. While you are in the process of losing a lot of weight, your metabolism is in what is called a catabolic state, which means that you are breaking down body tissue and it is common to lose some muscle protein at the same time that you are breaking down large amounts of fat. Numerous wound-healing problems can occur if you have major surgery at this time, so your body needs to recover from this condition to heal properly after surgery.
Right Frame of Mind
You also need to be in a good frame of mind entering into elective plastic surgery. Some post-bariatric patients are not prepared for what their body is going to look like after massive weight loss and they can get depressed when they see that their skin didn’t shrink up as much as they thought that it would. The knowledge that most of this excess skin can be removed with plastic surgery as long as they are health enough can be helpful.
Several blood tests should be tested before post-bariatric surgery to determine that a patient’s blood count is adequate and that they are in positive protein balance to undergo surgery. In addition, most weight loss procedures result is some form of malabsorption by your intestinal tract, which is one of the reasons why the procedure works. This can result in reduced ability to absorb important nutrients and vitamins such as iron. Many post-bariatric patients have some sort of iron deficiency anemia that could preclude surgery if your hemoglobin is too low.
Major Life Change
Undergoing massive weight loss surgery and the resulting changes in your body are a major life change for most people. Having post-bariatric cosmetic surgery can also be life changing and should not be taken lightly. Having this type of surgery around another significant life event such as a wedding, change in occupation, divorce or relocation may not be in your best interest.