How plastic surgery can be part of your New Year's resolution
The new year – and all its resolutions – rang in as champagne bottles popped, the ball dropped and people promised to do all sorts of things in the name of self-improvement, especially lose weight.
Thousands of people plan to shed the pounds they gained during the COVID-19 pandemic and the holiday season, and cap off their weight loss journey with plastic surgery to contour their bodies, augment their breasts or remove excess skin.
"I think plastic surgery at the end of any kind of health or wellness journey is incredibly rewarding for patients, and it just helps them look and feel their best, especially after all the hard work they've put in," said Ashley Amalfi, MD.
Getting healthy now for surgical procedures later
Amalfi anticipates seeing patients reward themselves with plastic surgery at the end of a diet or exercise challenge this year.
Because plastic surgeons recommend patients be close to their goal weight for procedures like tummy tucks and liposuction, successful New Year's resolutions to lose weight will lead to much-anticipated plastic surgery procedures later in 2023.
"It makes a lot of sense that if patients are getting to their best healthy goal weight and fitness level within New Year's resolutions, then any of the physical remnants of that – whether it be a problem area or loose extra skin – plastic surgery is a great way to end that journey," said Amalfi.
Other surgeons expect similar visits from patients who have lost weight after a New Year's resolution.
"We do see patients that have made those necessary lifestyle changes where they're eating healthy and going to the gym and increasing their level of activity," Joe Hadeed, MD, FACS. "They come in and say, 'Okay, now I'm ready.'"
Hadeed said these patients do as much as possible to lose weight and are ready to take the next step with plastic surgery to improve their contours, remove extra skin or reduce stubborn pockets of fat.
Hitting those weight and fitness goals
Patients must first do the hard work of losing weight and exercising before undergoing a body plastic surgery procedure, according to ASPS President Gregory Greco, DO, FACS.
"I'm nothing more than an adjunct to diet and exercise," said Greco. "I'm not an alternative."
Greco emphasized that plastic surgery alone is not the answer and encourages a healthy lifestyle. Still, perfection is not necessary. For example, he said there's a difference between a patient's "realistic" weight and their "goal" weight, and it's okay to be realistic.
"I always give people both options. What's your realistic weight, and what's your goal weight?" said Greco. "The realistic weight is – with a good diet and exercise – where they can very stably stay. Their goal weight, which is the one that they would love to be but have a hard time either maintaining or getting to."
Greco said that whether a patient is at their realistic weight or their goal weight at the time of surgery is up to them. The important thing is that their weight remains stable after surgery to protect their long-term results.
Making sure you're healthy for surgery
It's also vital that a patient is healthy going into surgery; their body mass index (BMI) can help determine this. Greco prefers his patients' BMI to be generally no higher than 28.
"BMI is not a perfect indicator," said Greco. "We're just talking about an overall healthy patient who doesn't have too much excess weight on them."
Patients who are obese sometimes have additional health concerns like diabetes, hypertension and sleep apnea, which can complicate surgery and recovery, according to Greco. When doctors look at the risk calculators they use for surgery, a high BMI and other comorbidities play into the risk of postoperative complications, including blood clots and difficulty with anesthesia during the operation.
"It's not the weight itself per se that independently causes the complications," said Greco. "It's the risk of having other comorbidities that, in fact, create the risk."
For thousands of people, 2023 will be the year they lose weight and get in shape, and they'll cap that journey off with plastic surgery to optimize their results. If you're one of them, choose a plastic surgeon who employs high ethical and safety guidelines by looking for board certification and ASPS membership.
To find a qualified plastic surgeon for any cosmetic or reconstructive procedure, consult a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. All ASPS members are board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, have completed an accredited plastic surgery training program, practice in accredited facilities and follow strict standards of safety and ethics. Find an ASPS member in your area.