Nutrition

Should you consider plastic surgery for weight loss?

Author: Canadian Living

Nutrition

Should you consider plastic surgery for weight loss?

Medical professionals would agree that in a perfect world, we would achieve a healthy weight through exercise and diet instead of resorting to plastic surgery. However, the fact remains that some of us, for reasons ranging from health concerns due to obesity or cosmetic reasons resulting from weight gains, require or desire plastic surgery for weight loss.
 
Here is an overview of the most common cosmetic surgery procedures that help you lose weight. But, before you read on, note that as with any surgery there are inherent risks that come ranging from minor to life threatening, so speak to your physician for more information. It's also important to consider that although surgery may help you lose pounds, it doesn't extinguish food cravings, nor replace the need to exercise for optimal wellbeing.
 
Gastric bypass surgery
What is it: This major operation entails altering your small intestine and making your stomach smaller by dividing it into two parts, a smaller pouch and a larger pouch, according to the Mayo Clinic. Food passes only through the small pouch, meaning you can eat and therefore digest far less, resulting in quick and significant weight loss.
 
Post-surgery, you can only eat a few ounces of food at a time, and you must wait half an hour before drinking as your tiny new stomach will not be able to hold both food and liquid.
 
The usual guideline for this surgery is that you must have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 to qualify for the surgery or a BMI of 35 to 39.9 if you also have a health problem related to weight (learn how to calculate your BMI).
 
Recovery time: 3 to 5 weeks
 
Pros and cons: On the negative side, gastric bypass surgery requires two to five days of hospitalization and further recovery time. Nausea and vomiting are common side effects. You will need to make lifestyle changes including eating healthily and regularly taking supplements, as Iron and vitamin B12 deficiency are common side effects. On the pro side, you will likely lose weight far more quickly than by changing your diet and exercise alone (and faster than through Lap-Band surgery), which may save your life if you’re morbidly obese.
 
Lap-Band surgery
What it is: Like gastric bypass surgery, this procedure makes your stomach smaller. During laparoscopic surgery an inflatable band is placed around the stomach, creating a smaller pouch for food to pass through. The amount you can eat and digest is vastly reduced, thus reducing calorie intake. Lap-Band surgery differs from bypass surgery in that it doesn’t require any cutting or stapling, and the band is adjustable.
 
Recovery time: 1 to 2 weeks
 
Pros and cons: Lap-Band surgery touts a lower risk of malnutrition than gastric bypass surgery, and the band's manufacturer reports fewer major surgical complications and less recovery time (you can find more info at www.lapbandcanada.ca).
 
On the con side, weight loss is slower than with gastric bypass surgery, and it is possible for the band to slip or even erode, requiring follow-up surgery. Also, nausea and vomiting are common, a result of the new stomach pouch's inability to hold much food or liquid.

Page 1 of 2--On page 2, learn about liposuction and body contouring
 Liposuction
What it is: Liposuction is a surgery that employs a small tube, called a cannula, to suck fat out of specific body areas such as the abdomen or thighs. Small incisions are made near the area to be suctioned, fluid containing anesthetic and adrenaline is injected into the area (called the "tumescent" method) and the cannula is inserted to extract the fat. Similarly, the "ultrasound" method uses a cannula to extract the fat, which is first emulsified with an ultrasonic probe.
 
"Women and men who are not overweight but have isolated areas of fat they cannot get rid of through diet and exercise are good candidates for liposuction," says the Canadian Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. However, liposuction is not effective at removing cellulite and isn't suitable for people with poor skin tone.
 
Recovery time: Varies. Generally, a few days to be back to most normal activities; weeks for the swelling and bruising to subside; possibly months to see the full results.
 
Pros and cons: On the pro side, liposuction is usually an effective way to get rid of stubborn exercise-and-diet resistant pockets of fat. Small areas can be liposuctioned using local anesthetic, however multiple and large areas require general anesthesia. There are some cons to consider: risks ranging from skin numbness to infection and possible skin discolouration, depressions and wrinkling, says the Canadian Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. You'll also have to maintain a healthy lifestyle to keep the fat from returning.
 
Body contouring
What it is: Body contouring is an aesthetic cosmetic surgery procedure in which flabby, loose skin is removed. Usually you are sedated or anesthetized depending on the procedure, and the surgeon makes the appropriate incisions to get rid of the excess flesh and stitches the skin back together.
 
You've heard the expression "tummy tuck" bandied around – that's abdominoplasty, a type of body contouring surgery that removes excess tummy skin that can come as a result of age, drastic weight loss or pregnancy. Upper arm contouring is called brachioplasty, and breast contouring is called mastoplexy.
 
These procedures will help you look slimmer, but aren't a replacement for weight loss. In fact, you should be finished losing weight before you undergo them.
 
Recovery time: Varies. For a tummy tuck, one to two days in the hospital, according to the Mayo Clinic, about six weeks of swelling, and approximately 3 months until you will see the final result. These recovery times could increase in the case of all-over body-contouring surgery.
 
Pros and cons: Because body-contouring surgery involves stitches, realistically, you’ll be left with scars. If you're a heavy smoker, keep in mind you'll have to banish all nicotine products for over a month before your surgery. On the pro side, the effects of body contouring usually last unless you gain weight or become pregnant.

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Should you consider plastic surgery for weight loss?

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