BOSTON - After losing 120 pounds from weight reduction surgery, Jodi Carnes' new body was trapped under layers of excess skin.
"It was frustrating because you lose all this weight and you still have this extra skin hanging," says Carnes, 33. "I was literally tucking my loose skin into my clothes."
Like most patients who undergo weight reduction surgery, Carnes was dismayed at how her body looked like after major weight loss: excessive sagging skin that can cause low self-esteem and other problems, such as poor circulation and rashes.
As the demand for weight reduction surgery increases, so has the demand for body contouring procedures to correct skin malformations, says Loren Borud, MD, a plastic surgeon at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC).
According to a recent study by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the body contouring procedures have increased 77 percent during the past five years.
"When you lose 100 pounds or more your skin becomes distended beyond its ability to retract," Borud says. "These patients could work out every day for the rest of their lives without achieving success."
Plastic surgeons have modified and developed new procedures to address the aesthetic needs of people who achieve massive weight loss and for whom minimally invasive procedures, such as liposuction or traditional procedures like the "tummy tuck" are not appropriate.
Radical body contouring involves cutting away excess skin around problem areas, such as the upper arms, lower body, abdomen and breasts. Over the course of two years, Carnes had close to 20 pounds of skin removed from her abdomen, inner thighs and buttocks.
Borud, who has performed more than 200 body contouring procedures over the past three years, says patients must wait one to two years for their weight to stabilize before undergoing a contouring procedure. Insurance companies typically pay for procedures that involve the front of the abdomen, but others are considered cosmetic.
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is a patient care, teaching and research affiliate of Harvard Medical School, and ranks fourth in National Institutes of Health funding among independent hospitals nationwide. BIDMC is clinically affiliated with the Joslin Diabetes Center and is a research partner of Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center. BIDMC is the official hospital of the Boston Red Sox.