For many patients, getting to the point of undergoing plastic surgery is not an easy process or journey. In a lot of cases there is massive weight loss (MWL), pregnancy and childbirth, or years of thinking about it before it actually happens. Losing weight is a massive undertaking and a big step forward in the process, but it’s the plastic surgery that can be the most emotional. Dr Craig Layt, Plastic Surgeon based on the Gold Coast, QLD and Ballina in Northern NSW says it’s important patients recognise they are often not just looking at one plastic surgery procedure (which can in itself be daunting), but should be looked at as a total Reconstruction Program – Weight Loss Excess Skin, that may have a few stages.
Stage 1 – Losing weight, or getting healthy
For most of us, losing weight is not so easy. In fact, I know one lady who says she’s been on over 200 different diets and has tried to lose weight at least as many times in the last 20 years. I know myself, I’ve probably tried at least ten different diets, and my weight is constantly fluctuating to this day. But for those who do manage to succeed with their massive weight loss, it’s often – unexpectedly – only the beginning.
After losing a large amount of weight, many patients are left with excess, sagging skin that won’t retract back to fit their new, svelte figure. It can be heartbreaking, and scary, to realise that the only way you’re going to get rid of that skin is to have surgery.
Stage 2 – Recognising you need surgery
Help! Where are you going to find the funds for one or more plastic surgery procedures? Is it covered by Medicare? Even if it is, will you still be out of pocket thousands of dollars. Do you need a referral? How many procedures will you need? Can you have them at the same time? Do you even want to have them at the same time? What surgeon will perform your procedure? What’s involved in the actual procedure? What’s involved in the recovery? How much time will you need off work?
There are hundreds of questions that you’ll have and you’re probably not sure where to find the answers. The good news is that if you’re reading this blog, you’ll have started your research and be on your way to answering them. This step is all about research. Research, research, research. Research your procedure, research surgeons, understand what qualifications and experience you should expect your surgeon to have.
Dr Layt agrees and says perhaps the most important thing you can do is to choose your surgeon wisely. “If you are considering plastic surgery, there are many important decisions you will make regarding the ideal treatment for your needs and the overall process involved. The selection of your plastic surgeon is one of the most vital steps, and it is necessary to understand the differences between the various types of doctors who offer cosmetic enhancement procedures. I was recently invited to appear as part of a panel of experts to talk about these differences and how important it is for patients to choose a specialist plastic surgeon for those after complex reconstructions.”
Stage 3 – Choosing your surgeon and Planning Your Surgery
We always suggest you consult with at least two surgeons, sometimes more, to find one that you feel completely comfortable with and who understands what outcomes you want to achieve. Some surgeons will combine surgeries, some won’t. Some patients want surgeries combined, some don’t! There are pros and cons with both, and what you choose will depend on your individual circumstances. Hopefully by the time you are having your consult with your surgeon, you’ll have a bit of an idea of what you want and have some relevant questions to ask relating to the procedures you need. Dr Layt says “I always ask patients to prioritise the things they would like addressed and then with them put a reconstructive program together based on those desires and practicalities like positioning during surgery and recovery.” Of course, different plastic surgeons might give you different options so you need to go with the one that feels right for you. Procedures relating to massive weight loss include:
- Breast lift/augmentation/reduction
- Body Lift
- Thigh Lift
- Neck Lift
- Back Lift
- Butt Lift/augmentation
“Sometimes it is not practical or wise to do certain procedures together due to safety and outcome concerns,” Dr Layt says. Once you’ve planned your surgery with the help of your surgeon and set a date (perhaps the first date, with more to come) you’ll feel a bit closer to your goal. This can be an exciting, scary and overwhelming time. If you haven’t already found an online support group, now is a great time. Plastic Surgery Hub has a few wonderful closed Facebook Groups for patient support – you might want to check them out with the links below. These provide a supportive forum for patients to share their stories, connect with other patients going through the same thing as they are, give and receive advice and ask any questions without judgement.
When planning your surgery you need to remember you also need to plan your recovery. Have you organised time off? Someone to help with the kids, the cooking, the husband, the wife, the boyfriend (or all of them LOL)…! You need to be able to give yourself ample time to recover or you could jeopardise all your hard work. This is an important step in the process and should not be overlooked.
Stage 4 – Weight Loss Excess Skin – Having the Procedure
Ahhhhhhh!!! Your date is here! This can be really overwhelming, but just remember to breathe, ask your surgeon any last minute questions, and remind yourself that you’ll be fine. Dr Layt says, “There is an old surgical saying that “perfect planning prevents poor procedure performance.” We have already planned it, so relax. See you on the flip side!”
Stage 5 – The Recovery
After you wake up from your procedure you’ll be relieved it’s over (at least until the next surgery if you have one!). Hopefully you won’t be in too much pain and you’ll follow the surgeon’s instructions for your medication to the T. If you didn’t go home on the day, you’ll hopefully go home the next day, or on whichever day you and your surgeon have decided on. Recovery can take many weeks, and results can take even longer, so this is where you need to be really patient and more than anything, be kind to yourself. But you can also start to get excited. You’ve been through an amazing journey and you’ve come out the other side.