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How can you treat excess skin?

Sagging skin is a common complaint among people who have undergone a dramatic weight loss, or women who have been left with excess skin following pregnancy.

It is also a natural product of the ageing process, when the skin loses elasticity, causing it to wrinkle and sag.

Fat causes the skin to stretch and in cases of obesity, this can damage the skin’s natural collagen and elastin. Therefore losing a large amount of weight in a very short period of time results in loose excess skin which hangs from the body. Most of the people who undergo such a dramatic weight loss do not form new collagen in their skin, so the sagging skin remains.

Obesity affects the whole body, stretching the skin in the face, breasts, arms, stomach, thighs, back, flanks, mons pubis and other parts of the body. Subsequent weight loss can leave a lot of excess skin all over the body. This can lead to painful flapping tissue and fungal infections in the crevices of the excess skin.

Not only can the appearance of excess and sagging skin lead to physical problems, but it can also take its toll on a person’s mental wellbeing, affecting confidence and self-esteem.

Luckily, the problem of excess skin can be easily and effectively treated with surgery. The type of surgery depends on which part of the body requires treatment.

Surgical excision

Excess skin can be removed from the body by way of surgical excision. This means the loose skin is cut away to allow for the remaining skin to be tightened.

Skin excision is effectively used on excess and sagging skin on various parts of the body, including the arms (brachioplasty) and breasts (mastopexy).

Surgical excision is often combined with liposuction, as the former can leave loose excess skin behind, particularly in older patients whose skin doesn’t benefit from the elasticity of youth.

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Liposuction

Liposuction is a cosmetic surgical procedure to remove unwanted body fat, and involves sucking out small areas of fat that are hard to lose through exercise and a healthy diet alone.

Liposuction is a highly efficient solution in a variety of areas of the body, leaving a more defined shape and more balanced proportions. These include the buttocks, hips, thighs, abdomen, chin, upper arms, breasts and knees.

Liposuction is designed specifically to target fatty tissue, so it will not significantly improve the appearance of loose sagging skin. Other body contouring procedures, such as a tummy tuck or body lift, may be better options for patients with excess skin.

Abdominoplasty

Abdominoplasty, otherwise known as a 'tummy tuck', is one of the five most common cosmetic surgery procedures in the UK.

An abdominoplasty removes the excess skin from above the waistline, tightens the muscles and fascia of the abdominal wall, and restores a tighter, flatter-looking stomach. The procedure is often combined with liposuction to remove fat and improve the contours of the abdomen.

A tummy tuck is not for people who are very overweight, nor is the procedure carried out as an aid to weight loss. It is a popular treatment among women who have experienced pregnancy.

Facelift, neck lift and brow lift

There are a number of procedures which can help to treat sagging skin in the face area, namely the facelift, neck lift and brow lift.

For a full standard facelift, the surgeon creates an incision in the front of the ear, up towards the hairline and behind the ear into the scalp. They then lift the skin up off the face, gently pulling it into an upwards direction and removing any excess skin. This can be carried out in conjunction with a neck lift, which effectively tightens sagging skin around the chin and jowls.

Patients experiencing a saggy brow, or loose elastic skin in the brow, eye and forehead area, would benefit from a surgical brow lift. Typically patients who are most suitable for a surgical brow lift are between the ages of 40 and 60 years old, and with good skin elasticity. Non-surgical alternatives may be more suitable for those in younger age brackets.

If you are experiencing excess or sagging skin, please rest assured that there are a number of treatment options available to you. Please call the team here at the Cadogan Clinic and talk to our surgeons about how we can help you achieve your body goals.

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