A tummy tuck, also known as an abdominoplasty, is the very common and effective plastic surgery procedure employed to help rejuvenate the appearance of the abdomen. By tightening the muscles and tissues of the abdominal wall, removing excess skin and fat and contouring the remaining tissues, a flatter, tighter and more shapely abdomen can be obtained. The result can be a dramatic improvement in the appearance which you can be very happy with. Weight loss and targeted exercising can’t, by themselves, lead to this result.
Now there is evidence of another benefit of having a tummy tuck: the possibility of long-term weight loss. An unexpected twofer!
Wouldn’t that be nice!
Whether or not there is a relationship between long-term weight loss and body contouring procedures like tummy tucks and lower body lifts (for massive weight loss or MWL) has been pondered in the past but has not been scientifically investigated. Now, a pilot study conducted in the Los Angeles area and just published in the February 2013 issue of the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery® journal lends credence this possibility.
This clinical study evaluated 20 women for short and long-term weight loss after having undergone an abdominoplasty. Multiple factors were considered and assessed in order to detect any correlations. After one year, fourteen of the twenty women had maintained a weight loss in excess of the amount of tissue resected in surgery. Their average body mass index (BMI, which is derived from weight and surface area) was around 30 (considered borderline obese) prior to their tummy tucks and decreased to 23 at one year (18.5 to 25 is considered to be normal). Those whose BMI was greater than 24.5 were more likely to lose weight than those less than this number.
There was also a positive correlation between the amount of tissue removed during surgery and long-term weight loss. Those who had more than 4.5 pounds removed were more likely to have this result as compared to those who had less than 4.5 pounds removed. (Of course, the amount of tissue removed at the time of surgery was accounted for in the weight loss calculations.)
Two factors may play a role in this long-term weight loss following tummy tuck surgery. First, it was discovered that three quarters of the women who maintained this lower weight experienced an increased sense of satiety (fullness) either after eating or throughout the day. Therefore, they ate less.
The second factor may be that by removing the fat cells contained in the resected tissue, there could be a reduced stimulatory effect on the appetite centers in the brain. The reason for this is that these fat cells release a variety of hormones which are known to enhance one’s appetite. Fewer fat cells results in lower levels of these hormones which translates into less stimulation of these centers – and less eating, fewer calories.
Ultimately, larger scale studies will need to be performed in order to more definitively corroborate such a positive relationship between tummy tuck surgery and long-term weight loss.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we eventually determine that an abdominoplasty is not only great for your appearance but also beneficial for your weight and health?
For more information on a tummy tucks, lower body lifts for massive weight loss or for any other plastic surgery procedure that I perform, please call my office at 480-451-3000. You can also arrange for a complimentary consultation with me as well.
Steven H. Turkeltaub, M.D. P.C.
Scottsdale and Phoenix, Arizona