Body contouring surgery following gastric bypass is a key component to maintaining weight loss for bariatric patients, according to a recently published study in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
Abdominoplasty, more commonly known as the tummy tuck, is the most common body contouring procedure, but it can be paired with other other procedures to remove excess skin from the breasts, legs and upper arms.
According to the study, bariatric patients who had a tummy tuck or another body contouring procedure following their weight loss were more likely to keep the weight off for a longer period of time than those who only had gastric bypass surgery. The study compared two groups of approximately 100 patients each, one who underwent body contouring following their gastric bypass, and one who only underwent the bypass. On average the patients lost 100 lbs. on average.
Ft. Lauderdale plastic surgeon Dr. Paul Wigoda sees body contouring as an essential component for bariatric patients in their recovery process.
“Patients who lose large amounts of weight with bariatric surgery typically will have a lot of loose skin that requires excision.,” states Dr. Wigoda, “Leaving the loose skin likely causes some distress, which could in turn lead to depression or overeating.
He notes from a logistical standpoint, it’s also more difficult to exercise with large amounts of excess skin.
According to the study patients who underwent body contouring gained back less weight in the years after their gastric bypass. On average, they gained just over one pound per year, while their counterparts gained four pounds per year. After a period of seven years, factoring in the weight of the removed excess skin, those who had gastric bypass and body contouring surgery regained on average 14 pounds, while those who had only gastric bypass gained back approximately 50 pounds.
Dr. Wigoda believes the reason for this is mental just as much as it is physical.
“It is logical that patients who have surgery to remove the excess skin will feel better about themselves, exercise more, and be able to maintain their weight loss.”
“They become less self-conscious about their appearance once the excess skin is removed, and they become more encouraged to maintain a healthy lifestyle.”
He urges patients undergoing bariatric surgery to take this into account when planning their future medical needs, such as taking into account the need for multiple surgeries after the weight loss.