Q. I’ve lost a lot of weight and although my skin seems to have contracted, I almost look pregnant. What can I do to improve this situation?
A. First thing: Make sure that you do not have a neoplasm — tumor — that is making you look that way. I would see a physician and make sure this is not the situation. I will assume that you have done that and that now the problem is purely cosmetic.
Even though you may not have excess skin, you probably have a weakening of your abdominal muscles. You may even have a hernia. You should find a board-certified plastic surgeon who will improve the situation for you.
Depending on the extent of extra skin, you will need a tightening of your muscles and removal of the skin. The operation known as an abdominoplasty can be done as an outpatient procedure with the patient going home with either a pain pump or an anesthetic solution placed in the abdominal region. This medication usually makes the procedure very tolerable.
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Recovery is usually one week to 10 days; full recovery is in four to six weeks, at which time you can start increasing your activity level. Abdominoplasty has a very high success rate, although risks include bleeding, infection and scar formation. Physicians will usually tell you to do a lot of walking soon after the operation to avoid deep vein thrombosis (clots), which can form with abdominal surgery.
This operation is frequently done in conjunction with other procedures but recent studies have shown it is best to do this surgery as a separate operation to limit the risks of complication.
Dr. Carlos Wolf is a partner in Miami Plastic Surgery and is board certified. Email questions to Cwolf@miamiplasticsurgery.com.