Does body contouring work? Doctors say that bariatric patients do better with this follow-up surgery

Plastic Surgeon & Medical Spa Serving Oklahoma City, Edmond,Lawton & Nearby Central Oklahoma

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Posted: August 1, 2014

Read about what body contouring surgery is and how it fits into bariatric surgery.

For most people, bariatric surgery is a last resort – a more extreme but very effective route to lasting weight loss and lifestyle changes when conventional methods don’t work. But sometimes, this major weight loss surgery isn’t enough to help people keep the weight off. That’s where body contouring surgery comes in.

Why people gain weight back after bariatric surgery

Within the first few years after bariatric surgery, most patients see weight loss of anywhere from 40-80% of their excess weight. But as anyone who has gone on an “effective” crash diet knows, it’s extremely difficult to maintain major weight loss without gaining a bit back. And that’s just what happens with most bariatric patients:

  • Almost 80% of bariatric patients gain some weight back after hitting their lowest post-surgery weight
  • For those who do gain weight back, they experience an average of about 8% of their old weight come back

Bariatric surgery itself is not to blame for weight gain in the long term. Depending on the type of bariatric surgery, a patient might gain weight as her new stomach pouch gradually expands, allowing her to eat more food over time; some people may gain weight when they begin to adhere less strictly to the diet and exercise guidelines provided post-surgery.  It’s also hard to feel encouraged and capable of weight maintenance when you’re already conditioned to think of weight as something that’s beyond your control – and this emotional aspect is especially significant after bariatric surgery.

Interestingly, many patients find a more effective long-term solution in following up with body contouring surgery.

Weight loss results in people with body contouring vs without

Once a patient’s post-bariatric surgery weight stabilizes, she can opt to undergo body contouring surgery (which usually involves a tummy tuck and removal of excess skin in other areas). And it turns out that body contouring does more than increase self-esteem: it also helps patients keep the weight off.

Using a group of people who started out at 275 pounds before bariatric surgery (via gastric bypass), the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) found the following results:

 

Patients who opted for body contouring surgery

Patients who only had bariatric  surgery

Average weight achieved post-surgery (in lbs.)

176

220

Average % initial body weight regained

4

11

Average weight regain (in lbs., after accounting for excess skin removal)

14

50

Average weight gain per year after 2 years following surgery (in lbs.)

1

4

But why does body contouring work so much better than just a bariatric procedure alone?  We’d say there are a few good reasons:

  • Excess skin after massive weight loss can be very painful, which can discourage physical activity and movement
  • It’s easier to exercise and move around without the weight of extra skin

Some doctors think that body contouring surgery is so essential to bariatric patients’ success that it should be classified as reconstructive rather than cosmetic surgery. In fact, they’re so adamant about it that they want to see insurance companies covering the procedure. 

If you're considering body contouring surgery, please read more here or reach out to us today!