We’re all well aware of the obesity epidemic gripping much of the western world – and chances are you’re also pretty well versed in the surgical methods being used to tackle it. In the US, a set of recent statistics released by the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery highlighted just how far this sector has grown – 220,000 people had weight loss surgery in 2009, compared with just 17,000 in 1993.
However, this is far from the end of the story. In fact, it’s only the beginning. The US industry is not only reporting huge rises in weight loss surgery, but also significant gains in post-weight loss surgery treatments. These procedures deal with the sagging skin usually left behind by weight loss surgery, or losing a large amount of weight by other means.
Speaking to Surgery.org, an Illinois-based surgeon explained that the problems excess skin can cause are often as much psychological as physical.
“Excess skin and fat can be physically and emotionally uncomfortable for weight-loss patients. Many of them have been working for years to lose weight and achieve the figure they’ve always wanted. Often patients can also develop rashes or other physical problems from the excess skin. For many, plastic surgery is the final step on their weight loss journey.”
In most cases, the sagging skin is seen around the face, upper arms, abdomen, buttocks and thighs. It’s also commonly found on the breasts and neck. A common way to deal with the issue is with a lower body lift, with more localised surgery to deal with the other problems.
One question many may have about this type of surgery is: why wasn’t it carried out straight after the weight loss surgery? However, it’s broken down into parts for a good reason – it’s not actually safe to do it all at once. “The patient will undergo a breast lift and complete inner thigh reconstruction because I only get some of it with lower body lift and then months down the road we do the face, neck and arms,” another surgeon told the site.
Ultimately, weight loss surgery and its associated procedures look likely to grow even further over the coming decades. While much is being done to tackle the obesity epidemic, there are few signs of anything definitively working. And until there is a serious reversal in the slide towards widespread obesity, people are likely to be looking for surgical answers to their woes for the foreseeable future.