Body Contouring

Skin Removal Surgery After Weight Loss

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Body contouring surgery may be an option if loose, baggy skin affects how you look and feel about your body. This type of excess skin is common after dramatic weight loss from bariatric surgery. Body contouring surgery may help you complete the final phase in your weight loss journey, as it can enhance your appearance and make you feel better about yourself.

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Plastic Surgery After Weight Loss

The Cosmetic Reality of Dramatic Weight Loss
Excess skin can be a harsh reminder of dramatic weight loss, multiple pregnancies, or the aging process. It occurs when skin and fatty tissue have lost their elasticity after being stretched for a long time, and hang from your abdomen, arms, breasts, buttocks, or face. From a cosmetic perspective, excess skin can prevent you from feeling your best. However, it can also limit your mobility, and your clothing options, and cause medical issues including painful rashes, sores, and infections. Plastic surgery is the only way to remove excess skin after dramatic weight loss.

Risks and Benefits
Excess skin removal surgery can improve the quality of your skin, smooth the body’s natural contours, and improve your self-esteem. However, it is not without risks. As with any surgery, the risks include bleeding, infection, wound healing concerns, scarring, and the possibility of unsatisfactory results. Choosing an experienced, board-certified plastic surgeon who routinely performs these procedures in an accredited facility will minimize the risks and maximize the benefits associated with skin removal procedures.

Our Locations

Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.

Your First Consultation

Body contouring includes many different procedures. We discuss your reasons for pursuing body contouring, your desired outcome, and your expected results. You may wish to see us before you have reached your weight loss goal so you can understand your options and be prepared to undergo a procedure once you have reached your weight loss goal. Sometimes procedures can be combined. We identify your problem areas and help you create a plan.

Medical History

We conduct a thorough medical history, including your family history, general health status, previous operations, and any medications you may be taking.  

Physical Exam

We examine the areas of your body being considered for contouring procedures and take photographs for your medical record. 

Surgical Recommendations

We devise a surgical plan, which could include combining surgeries such as a lower body lift or upper body lift, depending on your needs. We discuss the potential risks and complications and your post-operation recovery.

Paying for Body Contouring

Cosmetic procedures are not covered by insurance. However, there are some instances when a body contouring procedure may be considered a medical necessity, which would be covered. We will review this during your exam. 

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Body Contouring Procedures


This procedure removes the excess skin and tissue of the lower belly that can hang over the genitals and onto the thighs. It may be combined with a tummy tuck. The length of your incision is determined by how much skin must be removed. This procedure may be covered by insurance if the excess skin is causing a medical concern, including skin rashes. Medical documentation is required for insurance coverage.

Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty)

Removes excess fatty tissue and skin, and tightens abdominal muscles to create a smoother, firmer abdomen. The incision is made across the lower abdomen, just above the pubic area. A complete abdominoplasty requires repositioning your belly button. A partial or mini-abdominoplasty removes excess skin and fat only from the lower abdomen but does not reposition your belly button.

Upper Arm Lift (Brachioplasty)

Brachioplasty removes sagging, drooping skin from the underside of the upper arm. Excess skin and fat are removed through an incision on the inside or back of your arm. This procedure may include liposuction to improve contours. Supportive tissue is tightened and reshaped, and the skin is smoothed over the new contour of your arm.  

Thigh Lift (Thighplasty)

A thigh lift removes excess skin and fat to reshape, tighten, and contour the inner or outer thigh. A crescentic thigh lift removes skin from the upper inner thigh. A vertical medial thigh lift removes excess skin down the entire inner thigh. A lateral thigh lift, which removes skin and fat from the outer thigh, is combined with a buttock lift.

Buttock Lift

Excess skin and fat are removed, and the buttock is contoured to give it a smoother look. This procedure may be combined with an outer thigh lift or a buttock augmentation. In the latter, fat deposits may be implanted or added to the buttock area to improve its appearance.

Gynecomastia Surgery

Men who experience enlarged breasts (gynecomastia) may be candidates for male breast reduction surgery.

Breast Lift

A breast lift can reshape breasts that lose volume and shape with massive weight loss. Volume can be restored using your own body tissue with fat grafting. Shape can be augmented with breast implants.


Liposuction is a procedure to remove excess fat deposits from the chin, neck, cheeks, upper arms, breasts, abdomen, buttocks, hips, thighs, knees, calves, and around the ankles. The fat deposits are removed through a hollow tube that is placed under the skin through a small incision. 

Fat Grafting

Fat grafting may be combined with another procedure to enhance the cosmetic effect when too much fat is lost in certain areas. Liposuction is performed to remove fat from one part of the body -- usually your thighs, belly, or buttocks. The fat is transferred through injection to the breasts, buttocks, or face to fill out hollows, irregularities, or grooves. 

Consistently Ranked Among the Nation’s Best Hospitals

Duke University Hospital is proud of our team and the exceptional care they provide. They are why we are once again recognized as the best hospital in North Carolina, and nationally ranked in 11 adult and 10 pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report for 2024–2025.

Why Choose Duke

The Comforts of a Private Practice
Our surgeons combine the comforts you expect from a private practice with the advantages you gain from seeking experts at a large medical institution. Our clinics are conveniently located in Durham and Raleigh and offer free parking.

Experts in Body Contouring After Weight Loss Surgery
Our board-certified surgeons work with you to create a treatment plan that suits your specific needs. Body contouring procedures are often staged and can take place over a one- or two-year time period. Our doctors work with you throughout the entire process to closely monitor your health and the results of your surgery.

Other Cosmetic Options
You may also want to consider varicose vein removal and other techniques -- such as Botox, fillers, and laser treatments -- that can enhance your skin and features. We work closely with you to achieve optimal results based on your goals. 

Teachers of Future Surgeons
Our plastic surgeons share their experience by teaching advanced cosmetic techniques to doctors across the country and around the world. 

This page was medically reviewed on 05/22/2023 by