The Facts About Body-Contouring Surgery

When you lose 100 pounds or more, what happens to the extra skin? For many, the answer lies in body-contouring surgery.

By Colette Bouchez
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

When author Frances Kuffel reached her goal weight -- after losing more than 200 pounds -- she didn't even realize how far she'd come.

"I kept thinking 'I'm still fat; I still look awful.' Someone else had to point out that my problem was no longer fat -- it was skin, all this excess skin from losing so much weight," says Kuffel, author of Passing for Thin.

As weight loss surgery becomes more popular, weight losses of 100 pounds or more are becoming common. But, experts say, the result can be at once rewarding and cruel, as layers of excess skin replace lost layers of fat.

"People who lose 100 pounds or more feel healthier, they know they are healthier, they can do things they could not do before. But when they look at their body, it's a constant reminder of where they were - and it can sometimes make it difficult to move on with their life," says J. Peter Rubin, MD, director of the Life After Weight Loss Surgery Center at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

A relatively new medical subspecialty, body-contouring plastic surgery was developed to address the aesthetic concerns of those who have lost large amounts of weight -- whether through dieting alone or with the help of weight loss (bariatric) surgery.