Skin removal surgery is a procedure in which a surgeon removes excess skin from a person’s body. Some of these procedures come under the banner of plastic surgery.

A person may opt to have skin removal surgery after they have lost a significant amount of weight. This is because extensive weight loss can result in excess skin in certain areas. Skin removal surgery often happens on the stomach, abdomen, arms, face, or breasts.

In this article, we discuss the various types of skin removal surgery and provide additional useful information.

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There are various kinds of skin removal surgery that focus on different areas of the body. The most common types include:

  • Abdominoplasty: This is commonly known as a tummy tuck. The procedure involves removing excess skin from the abdominal area and strengthening the abdominal wall muscles.
  • Panniculectomy: This procedure, which is not cosmetic, removes excess skin from underneath the belly button. It differs from a tummy tuck in that it removes a large amount of excess skin extending over the stomach, genitals, and thighs. Also, the surgeon will not usually create a new belly button or repair the abdominal muscles.
  • Brachioplasty: Brachioplasty is also known as an arm lift. It removes skin from the upper arm, reducing any sagging and tightening and smoothening the tissues in this area.
  • Mastopexy: During this procedure, a surgeon removes excess skin and fat from the breasts. People may refer to it as breast reduction. The surgeon may also need to move the nipple during this procedure.
  • Rhytidectomy: More commonly known as a facelift, a rhytidectomy helps remove excess skin on the neck. The procedure aims to give the face and neck a more youthful appearance.
  • Torsoplasty: Other names for this procedure include lower body lift and belt lipectomy. It removes excess skin from the sides and back of the torso and may take place alongside abdominoplasty or panniculectomy.
  • Thighplasty: This procedure, which some may refer to as a thigh lift, removes excess skin from the inner thighs.

Some people may wish to remove excess skin following extreme weight loss. When a person loses large amounts of weight, this can result in flaps of sagging skin in some areas of the body. Commonly affected sites include the arms, legs, torso, and buttocks. Skin removal surgery can boost a person’s body confidence.

A person may also wish to have skin removal surgery following complications after pregnancy or breastfeeding.

In many cases, people choose to remove excess skin for personal reasons. For example, they may not be happy with their appearance.

The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery states that a person is a good candidate for skin removal surgery following extreme weight loss if:

  • they have maintained their goal weight for 6 months
  • they are in good overall health
  • they understand that skin removal surgery may result in scarring and will not create a perfect body
  • they can take sufficient time off work to recover

A person may also be able to have skin removal surgery if they have had weight loss surgery, also known as bariatric surgery. This type of surgery helps a person lose weight by altering their digestive system.

Most skin removal surgeries, such as facelifts and breast reductions, count as cosmetic surgery. Anybody can opt to have these surgeries. A plastic surgeon will assess each person to determine whether they are a suitable candidate.

A doctor will advise a person on what they need to do to prepare for their skin removal surgery.

The preparation may involve:

  • having regular blood tests
  • avoiding smoking or alcohol
  • reducing the intake of certain herbs and vitamins
  • stopping some medications

A person should aim to live as healthy a lifestyle as possible before this type of surgery.

A person should expect to receive a general anesthetic at the start of their skin removal surgery. This will allow them to stay asleep during the procedure.

In some cases, a person may need to stay overnight in a hospital or clinic following their procedure. However, in most cases, this procedure is an outpatient operation, and a person can usually leave on the same day.

A person should consult their doctor as to whether an overnight stay is a requirement following their procedure.

Following skin removal surgery, a person will likely have some scars.

As with all surgical procedures, skin removal surgery comes with some other risks. Possible risks include:

  • blood clots
  • stroke
  • bleeding
  • infection
  • bruising
  • swelling
  • nerve damage
  • necrosis
  • asymmetric appearance
  • allergic reaction to the anesthetic

The recovery time required following surgery depends on the specific procedure. Some people may need a few weeks to recover, while others may only require a few days of recovery.

A person’s healthcare team may put some temporary tubes in place to drain fluid from their body. The individual may need to reduce their physical activity and not drive for a week or so after the procedure. In some cases, surgical support or compression garments may be necessary.

Following abdominal skin removal surgeries, people may not be able to stand upright for a couple of days.

Unless there are any problems during surgery, the outlook for a person having skin removal surgery is usually positive.

There are some alternatives for people who do not wish to have skin removal surgery. The options may include:

  • Liposuction: This is a less invasive surgery that uses suction to eliminate excess fat from the body. It involves making small incisions in the target area.
  • ThermiTight: This procedure uses radiofrequency heat therapy in the affected region to tighten the skin.
  • CoolSculpting: This nonsurgical intervention uses intense freezing techniques to destroy fat cells.

Below, we answer some common questions about skin removal surgery.

Does it cause scarring?

Yes, skin removal surgery will usually result in some scarring where a surgeon made the incisions.

How painful is skin removal surgery?

During the procedure, a person will not feel any pain as they will be under general anesthesia. However, a person may experience some pain while they are recovering and need to take pain relievers.

How long do the results last?

This depends on the procedure. In some cases, the results may be permanent.

However, procedures such as a facelift are not permanent.

Does insurance cover the procedure?

Some insurance providers may offer coverage for certain skin removal surgeries.

Insurance providers typically will not cover surgeries that fall under the banner of cosmetic surgery. However, they may cover skin removal surgery following weight loss surgery.

Skin removal surgery encompasses a variety of surgeries on different parts of the body. A surgeon can remove excess skin from areas such as the abdomen, breasts, upper arm, and neck.

The reasons for wanting skin removal surgery are often personal, having little to do with underlying medical issues.

Recovery may take a couple of weeks, depending on the type of surgery. Usually, people can spend their recovery time at home.