When you think of plastic surgery procedures that are commonly performed after a patient loses a significant amount of weight, you might think of thigh lifts or tummy tucks. Procedures such as a facelift are usually associated with anti-aging, not weight loss. But, losing a lot of weight can mean losing a lot of extra fat from the area around the face and neck, leaving a patient with excess skin in that area as well as in the areas of the abdomen, thighs and hips. A facelift might be a suitable option for some weight loss patients, depending on the amount of weight loss and the effect on their face and neck.
Who is a Candidate?
Not everyone who loses weight is necessarily a good candidate for a facelift. Usually, patients who lose more than 100 pounds have lost an amount significant enough for them to have enough extra skin around the face and neck to benefit from surgery. Additionally, you should be at your goal weight and your weight should have held steady for several months before the surgery. You don’t want to undergo a procedure only to lose more weight and end up with more loose skin or to gain weight and have the weight gain affect the results of your facelift.
Your health also plays a big part in determining whether or not you’re a candidate for a facelift after weight loss. Ideally, you won’t have any major or chronic conditions, such as hypertension or diabetes. You also want to avoid any negative lifestyle habits, such as excess drinking or any type of tobacco use before your facelift and for several weeks afterwards. Eating a diet that is full of nutritious foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean proteins, can also help ensure that you have the best possible outcome from your facelift surgery.
How is a Facelift After Weight Loss Different from a Facelift for Anti-Aging?
When you lose a considerable amount of weight, the changes that occur in the skin on your face and neck are similar to the changes that occur in those areas as you age. You’ll notice more skin laxity, or droopiness, often in the form of a turkey’s neck or drooping jowls. The facial area might look as though it was deflated.
The big difference between the facial area skin after weight loss compared to aging facial skin is that there’s usually more of it when weight loss is the cause. For that reason, a surgeon performing a facelift on a post-weight loss patient might need to make larger or more incisions, tighten the skin more, and elevate the muscle and facial tissue to a higher level than when the procedure is performed on an aging patient. Interestingly enough, post-weight loss patients might need more fat added or repositioned in the cheek area to get the subtle and realistic results they hoped for.
Depending on the extent of the weight loss or the degree of skin laxity, a patient might also benefit from having another facial procedure performed at the same time. For example, a patient with a drooping forehead after weight loss can also benefit from a browlift at the same time as the facelift.
What Can You Expect in Terms of Recovery and Results?
Recovery from a facelift performed after weight loss is pretty similar to the recovery for an anti-aging facelift. You’ll typically need to take about a week or two off from work and to avoid vigorous exercise or activities for up to a month. It can take as long as a year for the final results to appear after the facelift, although many people notice a significant improvement by six months and many feel comfortable going out after several weeks.
Results from a facelift after weight loss typically last a considerable amount of time. In a study examining 22 patients who had a facelift after significant weight loss (average amount lost was 145 pounds), most had well-maintained results two years after the procedure. As long as you follow your surgeon’s instructions and make sure to maintain your weight, you can expect to enjoy the results of your surgery for years to come.
If you are happy with your weight loss, but unhappy with what’s it done to the skin on your face and neck, get in touch with Dr. George Bitar, board certified plastic surgeon at the Bitar Cosmetic Surgery Institute, near Washington, DC. Dr. Bitar can examine the skin on your face and neck and let you know if a facelift or a combination of facial plastic surgery procedures are the right choice for you. To schedule a consultation, call (703) 206-0506 today.
George Bitar, MD, FACS is an award-winning, board-certified cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgeon, the Founder and Medical Director of Bitar Cosmetic Surgery Institute in Virginia. He specializes in the latest surgical and minimally invasive techniques to scar management and reduction. Dr. Bitar is involved in groundbreaking research and education in plastic surgery and has authored numerous articles, abstracts, and chapters.