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“Body contouring surgery after substantial weight loss is a decision not to be taken lightly and requires a long-term commitment from the patient to maintain a healthy weight and lead a healthy lifestyle post-surgery,” says Dr Terence Goh, Visiting Consultant, Department of Plastic, Reconstructive & Aesthetic Surgery, Singapore General Hospital (SGH), a member of the SingHealth group.

Preparing for body contouring surgery

Prior to surgery, the surgeon will ensure the patient:

  • Has achieved a stable weight with proper diet and exercise
  • Is fit for surgery and nutritionally adequate for surgery through blood tests
  • Has undergone a detailed discussion to assess whatever concerns and determine which areas to target for procedure(s). Some areas can be done in combination whilst others may not be suitable. The entire process will usually require more than one surgery.

Once a plan is formulated, the patient will be listed for surgery. Pressure garments will also be measured for the patient to use after the surgery. Surgical markings will be drawn on the patient’s body in standing and lying positions to determine the amount of skin that needs to be excised.

How is body contouring surgery performed

Body contouring surgery is done under general anaesthesia. Occasionally, liposuction is also performed during the surgery to assist in the removal of adipose (or fat) tissue before the skin is removed. The skin is then closed meticulously over drainage tubes. Pressure garments are put on before the patient wakes up from the general anaesthesia.

Risks of body contouring surgery

These include:

  1. Infection
  2. Bleeding that may require blood transfusions
  3. Scars
  4. Reopening of surgical wound
  5. Asymmetry
  6. Changes in sensation
  7. Post-operative swelling and seroma (fluid collection under the skin post-procedure)
  8. Risk from prolonged bedrest (e.g. deep vein thrombosis, urinary tract infections etc)
  9. Risks associated with general anaesthesia (stroke, heart attacks)

Duration of recovery time

Your surgeon will share post-procedure care advice before you’re discharged from the hospital.

Recovery time varies from individual to individual. On average it takes about three to five days for the drainage tubes to be removed and the patient to be discharged. Depending on the extent of surgery, patients take between three to four weeks to return to work.

Occasionally, there are wound healing problems, which may require dressings or wound management. Whilst these are usually minor, they may require periodic visits to the clinic. These wounds would usually resolve with time.​

See the previous page to learn about the types of body contouring surgery and the mindset needed to undergo such a procedure.

Ref: N18