After a person has experienced massive weight loss, whether from bariatric surgery or lifestyle changes through diet and exercise, the road to feeling good often has one last hurdle. For men and women alike, that final barrier to feeling better is excess skin and fat that remains after shedding the pounds.
“Many patients after significant weight loss still see themselves as obese,” says C.B. Boswell, MD, plastic surgery specialist with BodyAesthetic Plastic Surgery & Skincare Center and chief of staff at Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital. “They’ve lost the weight, they’re exercising and eating better, but they’re not seeing results because of the extra skin.”
Common risks or concerns associated with the extra skin are yeast infections, being physically uncomfortable and feeling uncomfortable about one’s appearance, he adds.
About 50 percent of Dr. Boswell’s patients see him for body contouring to eliminate excess skin and fat through common procedures such as circumferential body lift, brachioplasty (or arm lift), thigh lift and/or face lift. Most patients lose weight after having bariatric (weight loss) surgery, but about 25 percent of patients lose weight with diet and exercise.
When Lindsey Whetstone, 29, decided to remove excess skin and fat after losing more than 70 pounds, she thought a tummy tuck would be the answer.
Whetstone knew she was in the best shape of her life, but she didn’t feel that way. She’d gained weight after having two daughters, and each time lost weight through lifestyle changes, particularly CrossFit. She and her husband even opened a gym, CrossFit Nucleus, near their Swansea, Ill. home.
“No matter how fit I got, the skin was still there,” she says. “I knew what I looked like on the outside was not how I felt.”
Whetstone’s primary care physician referred her to Dr. Boswell, who along with his staff recommended a circumferential body lift.
“I know it sounded daunting at first to Lindsey, but the body lift also helped in removing loose skin on the flanks and back,” Dr. Boswell says. “Telling a patient that they are going to have an incision that extends all the way around their abdomen sounds scary, but recovery is much better than most expect. Patients are walking the same day as their surgery, and I have had patients walking five miles a day within the first week.”
After getting over the initial shock, Whetstone was on board. Following the four-hour procedure, she remained at Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital for two nights, but was walking the day of surgery.
“Dr. Boswell, and his staff are amazing. They understand what you want to achieve, and they make you comfortable,” she says. “Having the skin removed was a mental thing. It didn’t portray
what I was putting out there for everyone to see.”
Justin Wiseman lives more than two hours from St. Louis in Eldorado, Ill., and found Dr. Boswell through the Internet.
Today, the 31-year-old mail carrier is 180 pounds. Five years earlier, he was more than 600 pounds. “I was big my entire life. I weighed 100 pounds when I was 5 years old,” he says.
By age 26 and at the height of his weight, Wiseman knew he was would die if he didn’t do something. “I had Type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea and many issues. I was a ticking time bomb.”
Wiseman’s mom, urged him to see a weight loss physician. They were disappointed when the doctor said that because he was so sick and heavy, there was nothing he could do. The doctor couldn’t help until he helped himself. And that’s what he did.
Wiseman lost 130 pounds through dieting and was then able to undergo gastric sleeve surgery. “In 18 months, I went from 600 to 200 pounds,” he says. “I made my ‘live it’ list, things I wanted to live for, and turned my life around.”
But Wiseman still had the problem of excess skin and fat, and that’s when he found Dr. Boswell two years ago. “Dr. Boswell is wonderful,” he says. “He made me feel at ease.”
Wiseman underwent several procedures, including a circumferential body lift and brachioplasty (arm lift) during a six-hour procedure at Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital. The body lift removed the excess skin and fat of his abdomen, flanks and back, whereas brachioplasty removed excess skin from his upper arms and chest.
“Surgery with Dr. Boswell completed what I had worked so hard for. Everyone at the hospital was wonderful,” Wiseman says. “I needed to do this for myself. The extra skin is like a battle scar that you want gone so badly.”
Patients who see Dr. Boswell have to be ready physically and emotionally for this final step in their weight loss journey. Prior to any procedure, Dr. Boswell and his staff ensure patients have reached their goal weight and have remained at a stabile weight for three to four months.
“It’s important to wait until patients have reached their plateau for weight loss since additional weight loss could lead to more loose skin,” he says.
Dr. Boswell regularly performs these procedures at Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital, which he describes as an excellent surgical hospital, especially for plastic surgery.
“Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital has a private wing for plastic surgery patients where every patient has a private room,” he says. “Patients are cared for by highly trained nurses. They understand how to make the patient more comfortable and anticipate their needs.”
Dr. Boswell says helping patients is one of the most rewarding aspects of his practice. “They’ve worked hard to get to where they are,” he says. “By removing excess skin through body contouring, it helps many patients feel like they have truly lost the weight and have much more confidence.”
To schedule an appointment with Dr. C.B. Boswell or another specialist, call 314.542.WEST (9378) or toll-free 844.542.9378 or request a call for an appointment.