A resolution of mine is to regularly clean out my email inbox. I usually just click on all the old emails and boldly hit DELETE. But I was glad I didn’t do that this month, as I came across this news item from the Wall Street Journal about the “healing” effects of a tummy tuck. I had originally saved it because I wanted to blog about it, but never got around to it….until today!
Tummy tucks (abdominoplasty), or other body-contouring procedures such as a panniculectomy, are often sought by people who are able to keep a common New Year resolution—to lose weight via diet and exercise. One side effect of major weight loss of, say, 50+ pounds, can be excess skin that is not only unattractive but can have physical ramifications. Tummy tucks are also sought by patients after pregnancy to help get back a flat stomach, and after bariatric surgery to lose that excess skin that doesn’t snap back. Sometimes a tummy tuck is performed at the same time as a tubal ligation, hernia repair, hysterectomy or other abdominal surgery.
Even though vanity may be the primary reason to have a tummy tuck or panniculectomy, new research shows that there may be some significant health benefits to these procedures beyond just motivating patients to maintain their weight.
- Tummy tuck/abdominoplasty: a surgical procedure that removes extra skin and fat in the abdomen
- Panniculectomy: a surgical procedure that removes the sagging skin (“apron”) below the belly button
A study in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery by Swiss researchers found that patients who have bariatric surgery are more likely to keep weight off if they have a body contouring procedure that removes excess skin at the same time. Patients who had bariatric surgery with a body contouring procedure regained an average of 1 pound/yr vs. 4 pounds/yr gained for bariatric patients who didn’t have contouring procedures. Because of this long-term weight control, the authors conclude that body contouring surgery “must be considered as a reconstructive operation in the treatment of morbid obesity.” You can read about it here.
Another study in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery reported that patients with a body mass index (BMI) >24.5kg.m2 who only had an abdominoplasty were more likely to have sustained weight loss. The authors hypothesize that the increased satiety in their patients and subsequent weight loss was possibly related to changes in the neuroendocrine system. You can read about it here. If you want to find out your BMI, you can easily do so here.
Like all surgical procedures, tummy tucks and panniculectomies carry risks–among them infection and blood clots. But combining two procedures (eg, a tummy tuck and a tubal ligation) may reduce the risks of a second procedure requiring anesthesia.
My Spring Resolution? I could use a little weight loss myself, but my resolution is to make more time to blog about important and interesting plastic surgery issues that I think my patients, friends, and colleagues would like to know about. I will also be blogging about what you need to know about operating room safety, how medical malpractice laws affect health care, and the how the current health care insurance climate affects patient care.
Be an informed medical consumer.