Can Tummy Tucks Lead to Long-Term Weight Loss?

weight lossPatients who get tummy tucks may experience long-term weight loss—especially if they were overweight or obese before their surgery—according to a pilot study in the February issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery authored by Dr. Rex Edward Moulton-Barrett of Alameda Hospital and colleagues.

For their study, Dr. Moulton-Barrett and his associates evaluated short- and long-term weight loss in 20 women who had undergone a tummy tuck (abdominoplasty). They found that one year after the surgery, 14 of those 20 had lost more weight than was removed during the surgery itself, and their average body mass index (BMI) had decreased significantly. In fact, the women’s BMIs dropped from an average of about 30 (which is considered obese) to an average of 23 (which is well within the range considered “normal”).

The remaining 6 women who participated in the study did not see the same lasting weight lost that their counterparts did; they all lost some weight in the months immediately following surgery, but by the end of the year had gained it back.

Dr. Moulton-Barrett and his colleagues believe that the reason the majority of the women studied were able to lose weight long-term has something to do with the fat cells removed during a tummy tuck. Three quarters of the 20 women studied said that following their abdominoplasty, they experienced a generally increased feeling of satiety. Based on these reports, the study’s authors speculate that removing abdomen fat may reduce the levels of hormones that affect appetite (those hormones are secreted by fatty tissues)—which would mean that it’s easier for people who have undergone abdominoplasty to feel full and satisfied after eating, leading to better portion control.

More studies will be needed to confirm whether or not Dr. Moulton-Barrett and his coauthors’ hypothesis is accurate. “Whether or not long-term weight reduction is associated with abdominoplasty has been little investigated and remains controversial,” they noted in their study. Still, the idea that an abdominoplasty could have long-lasting, positive effects on patients’ BMIs is an exciting one—and it’s something to keep an eye on as more data comes in!

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