I thought this might be a good article for my patients in Richmond currently considering tummy tuck surgery.
It’s from the Wall Street Journal and highlights an interesting study by Swiss researchers looking at the health benefits of tummy tuck surgery. Where surgery is required because of large weight loss, tummy tuck patients are keeping the weight off much more than those who have elected not to undergo surgery.
–Dr Gordon Lewis
New Research on Tummy Tucks Finds Significant Health Benefits
More people are getting tummy tucks and other so-called body-contouring procedures after losing a large amount of weight. While vanity may play a role in the decision to have such a surgery, new research shows that there are significant health benefits to these operations, including motivating patients to keep their weight in check.
Tummy tucks, officially known as abdominoplasty, aren’t typically covered by insurance. But they have become more common following bariatric surgery, which reduces the size of the stomach to help patients reduce food intake and lose weight.
Unlike in the past, some surgeons are often more willing to perform the procedures in tandem with other types of abdominal surgery, as recent studies show there aren’t generally major complications from combining the procedures.
Study Published Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
A study in the October issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery by Swiss researchers found that bariatric patients who have surgery to remove excess skin are more likely to keep weight off after procedures, regaining an average of just over 1 pound a year compared with 4 pounds annually for bariatric patients who didn’t have contouring procedures.
The authors say the findings add to the argument that such procedures are an essential part of successful weight-loss surgery and should be considered reconstructive and thus covered by insurance.
More patients are opting for tummy tucks or other “body contouring” procedures after serious weight loss or bariatric surgery that aren’t just about vanity: they lessen the risk of infection and improve healing after surgery. Laura Landro reports. Photo: Miami Plastic Surgery.
These surgeries can produce “a second wave of elation” that helps a patient stay on track to lose more weight, says Tripp Holton, assistant professor of plastic surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
Many people who finally reach a goal of losing 50 or 100 pounds or more through diet and exercise or bariatric surgery find themselves with a new and frustrating dilemma: sagging extra skin and stubborn deposits of belly fat.
Lizanne Haddadin of Discovery Bay, Calif., lost 120 pounds over about eight years by watching her calories and regular workouts. When she had hernia surgery in July, Ms. Haddadin, a special-education teacher’s aide and mother of two, opted to have a tummy tuck at the same time to remove excess skin and fat she couldn’t shed after the weight loss and to tighten her abdominal muscles.
After her dual surgery, she came home with a pump to deliver pain medicine directly to the stomach area for five days, and had a licensed vocational nurse stay with her for 24 hours to help with bandages and drains. She says she was able to get by with minimal use of pain medication, and she took antibiotics to prevent infection, with no complications.
Ms. Haddadin, 46, was walking slowly on her treadmill a couple of weeks after surgery and is now jogging, hiking, swimming, weight lifting and taking exercise classes.
“I feel like clothes fit me better and I feel much better when I jog and exercise,” she says. “I was really uncomfortable having all that extra skin.”
Since the surgery, Ms. Haddadin, who is 5-foot-6, has lost an additional 15 pounds and is down to 176 pounds. Her eventual goal is 135 pounds. “I have a ways to go, but this has helped me get closer to my goal,” she says.
Ms. Haddadin says she felt the dual surgery was also cost-effective: Alameda, Calif.-based Rex Moulton-Barrett, the plastic surgeon who performed her surgery, included the hernia repair in his fee for the tummy tuck. The total cost, including surgery, anesthesia, the nurse and rental of a hospital bed for her home for 30 days, was about $8,000.
A study of 20 of Dr. Moulton-Barrett’s patients, published in the February issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, found that tummy tucks led to significant and lasting weight loss for many patients, especially those who were overweight and obese. Long-term weight loss was more likely for women in the study who were just under the borderline for overweight. And sustained weight loss was also more likely for those who had a greater amount of excess abdominal tissue removed.
Dr. Moulton-Barrett says increased satiety seemed to be an important contributor. And the study provides preliminary evidence that removing fat cells in the abdomen may lead to reduced levels of appetite-affecting hormones, which are secreted by fatty tissues, he says.
This was Ms. Haddadin’s experience. She says she gets less hungry and feels fuller sooner at meal times.
Like many surgical procedures, tummy tucks carry risks including infection and blood clots. But a study at Montefiore Medical Center in Bronx, N.Y., presented last April at the American Association of Plastic Surgeons’ annual meeting, found there was no evidence of an increase of complications among obese or even morbidly obese patients who had abdominoplasty 12 to 18 months after gastric-bypass procedures. The researchers noted that many such patients benefit from body-contouring surgery to improve daily-life activities.