Bariatric Surgery & Plastic Surgery

Bariatric Surgery & Plastic Surgery: What To Expect

June 1, 2021

Bariatric surgery includes several weight loss procedures, including gastric bypass surgery, to change the digestive system to facilitate weight loss. These procedures are often executed in extreme cases when diet and exercise have yet to produce actual results, or the excess weight has begun affecting a patient’s overall health. Unfortunately, bariatric surgery often leaves patients with a significantly “deflated” look that requires the assistance of plastic surgery to correct.

What Does Bariatric Surgery Do To the Body?

Bariatric surgery aims to restrict or malabsorb the amount of food the stomach can store during digestion. Weight loss in the months after surgery is dramatic and immediate until the body reaches a plateau. When this happens, loose and excess skin will hang from sections of the body such as the upper arms, chest, stomach, buttocks, and thighs.

These sections of skin are prone to chafing, irritation, and other difficulties that can affect personal hygiene. A typical example is an overhanging panniculus, where an apron-like stretch of excess skin hangs from the stomach to cover both the pubis and groin. Thankfully, plastic surgery procedures focused on contouring the body can easily correct these issues.

How Can Plastic Surgery Correct Changes from Bariatric Surgery?

Body contouring surgeries oversee several cosmetic procedures designed to enhance or restore the body by removing pockets of excess skin and fat.

These surgeries are often performed 12 - 18 months after a bariatric procedure to limit the risks of complications while ensuring that the body has healed from the initial surgery. This also gives the body ample time to adjust to the weight loss changes as most board-certified plastic surgeons require patients to be as close as possible to their ideal weight and BMI (body mass index). However, it is important to keep in mind that a surgeon may require their patient to lose more weight if they have plateaued before reaching their ideal weight.

Common Body Contouring Procedures After Bariatric Surgery

These are the most common body contouring procedures:

  • Liposuction - A procedure that permanently removes pockets of stubborn fat from specific areas of the body.
  • Tummy Tuck - Excess skin and fat are trimmed away from the mid-section. The abdominal wall can be re-tightened during surgery.
  • Panniculectomy - Removes fat and loose skin from the pannus, a stretch of excess skin that hangs from the abdomen down over the groin and thighs.
  • Breast Lift - Restores sagging by reducing the presence of excess tissue in the breasts.
  • Back Lift - Redefines the upper body by removing excess fat and loose skin from the upper back.
  • Lower Body Lift - Reduces the presence of excess fat and skin from the abdomen, hips, thighs, and buttocks. 
  • Thigh Lift - Enhances the appearance of the thighs by removing loose skin.

Insurance For Plastic Surgery

Most of the procedures listed above are eligible for insurance coverage, provided that it has been deemed medically necessary. When performed for purely aesthetic reasons, most insurance providers are highly unlikely to cover the costs.

A clinical summary letter is often sent to the patient’s chosen insurance provider after the initial consultation. It can take up to two months for the provider to determine the procedure’s candidacy for coverage.

Where Can I Start?

If you are recovering from gastric bypass or bariatric surgery and need cosmetic surgery, I suggest scheduling a consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon specializing in body contouring procedures. Their experience in this field will help guide you through the surgical and recovery process to ensure you attain life-changing and satisfying results.

Bariatric Surgery & Plastic Surgery
Ergun Kocak


Dr. Ergun Kocak is a board-certified plastic surgeon specializing in advanced aesthetic and reconstructive surgeries of the breast and body at Midwest Breast & Aesthetic Surgery. He is fellowship-trained in microvascular reconstruction and performs over 200 DIEP and other microvascular free flap breast reconstructions yearly. He also specializes in aesthetic operations of the breast including breast reduction, and breast lift (mastopexy).