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Weight loss, skin surgery can lead patients to total transformation

Intermountain Healthcare docs to take questions on enhancing appearances from head to toe

Published: Thursday, Aug. 9 2012 11:22 p.m. MDT

Dr. Brian Reuben poses for a photo in Salt Lake City, Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2012. (Ravell Call, Deseret News) Dr. Brian Reuben poses for a photo in Salt Lake City, Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2012. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Multiple pregnancies, weight loss surgery and extreme lifestyle changes can lead to dramatic transformation for some people, but what's left of the body may come as a surprise.

"They have massive amounts of skin still on their lower abdomen, on their buttocks, their lower backs, thighs, their arms, as well as the breasts," said Dr. Brian Reuben, a plastic surgeon at LDS Hospital's Avenues Specialty Clinic. He said most people who are successful at losing 100 pounds or more would like to have excess skin removed to realize a full transformation.

"They often feel trapped in their bodies again and sometimes can't exercise comfortably because of the skin that is hanging down or flapping on their bodies," he said. "We can contour and reshape that so they can get their bodies back and be able to have a lifestyle that they're interested in after weight loss." 

Dr. Brian Reuben talks with patient Adriana Josephs in Salt Lake City, Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2012. At back right are Adriana's son Axel and husband Christian. (Ravell Call, Deseret News) Dr. Brian Reuben talks with patient Adriana Josephs in Salt Lake City, Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2012. At back right are Adriana's son Axel and husband Christian. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

Body contouring is one of the more popular procedures that Reuben performs as a certified plastic surgeon, and the demand for it is high. The major drawback to the surgery is that most insurance companies don't cover the procedure and it can cost patients anywhere from $6,000 to $25,000, depending on various factors.

Patients receiving body contouring surgery, Reuben said, will have been screened prior to surgery and must be found nutritionally sound and ready for surgery. Blood loss and small wound issues or infections are the most common complications involved, he said.

Reuben and Dr. Adam Taintor, a dermatologist at Intermountain Healthcare's Alta View and Riverton hospitals, will be featured on Saturday's Deseret News/Intermountain Healthcare Health Hotline. From 10 a.m. until noon, the duo will take questions from the public regarding medical concerns and cosmetic procedures dealing with the skin. Anyone interested is welcome to call 1-800-925-8177 during that time.

Dr. Brian Reuben talks with patient Adriana Josephs in Salt Lake City, Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2012. (Ravell Call, Deseret News) Dr. Brian Reuben talks with patient Adriana Josephs in Salt Lake City, Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2012. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

In addition to body contouring, Reuben performs general plastic or reconstructive surgery, breast augmentations or reconstruction, abdominoplasty and other procedures, including permanent skin rejuvenation procedures in which fat deposits are moved throughout the body to eliminate wrinkles. Non-permanent procedures, such as Botox injections, are less costly per service but don't last as long and often need to be redone, Reuben said.

Abdominoplasty, or "tummy tuck" surgery, is sometimes covered by insurance companies following gastric bypass or banding surgery, but Reuben said it is not enough.

"After such a dramatic change, many individuals need their whole circumference addressed," he said. "It's nice to be able to help someone re-establish their life and get the end result that they're interested in."

As the popularity of cosmetic procedures grows, Reuben said patients and consumers need to be wary of various claims. The industry is not well-regulated in Utah, allowing any medical doctor to obtain limited training and offer services to the public. Health clubs or medical spas offering various services might not boast physicians who have been properly trained to handle complications that could arise from cosmetic surgeries.

Dr. Brian Reuben talks with patient Adriana Josephs in Salt Lake City, Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2012. (Ravell Call, Deseret News) Dr. Brian Reuben talks with patient Adriana Josephs in Salt Lake City, Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2012. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

"Unfortunately what it comes down to is that cosmetic surgery is a huge market. There's a large demand for it and there are a lot of people willing to spend money on it and therefore there are people looking to capitalize on that," Reuben said.

He encourages anyone considering plastic surgery or any cosmetic procedure to research their physician thoroughly, doing their own due diligence to be sure the results they get are the same as the ones that were sought.

Saturday: Adult acne and other bothersome skin problems

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Hotline Saturday

The Deseret News/Intermountain Healthcare Health Hotline focuses on medical concerns and cosmetic procedures dealing with the skin. From 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Dr. Brian Reuben, of Intermountain's Avenues Specialty Clinic, and Dr. Adam Taintor, a dermatologist at Alta View and Riverton hospitals, will answer questions from the public. Anyone interested may call 1-800-925-8177, toll-free, during that time.

Dr. Brian Reuben talks with patient Adriana Josephs in Salt Lake City, Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2012. At back right are Adriana's son Axel and husband Christian. (Ravell Call, Deseret News) Dr. Brian Reuben talks with patient Adriana Josephs in Salt Lake City, Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2012. At back right are Adriana's son Axel and husband Christian. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

E-mail: wleonard@desnews.com

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