Cosmetic Controversy: Can a Tummy Tuck Aid in Weight Loss?

Study authors report an increase in ‘fullness’, with long-term results in near-obese patient population. Body contouring with liposuction or liposuction procedures required for figure finesse.


No matter the weight-loss method, one question on everyone’s mind is, just how long with the weight stay off? In the case of tummy tuck, a study published in the February issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery shows that results are long term. That’s according to a recent press release by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), which reports that an abdominoplasty, or tummy tuck, may not only be a weight loss method, but one with lasting results.


In this pilot study, 20 women who underwent a tummy tuck with an average 5 lbs of fat, tissue, and skin removed were evaluated for short- and long-term weight loss. At 1 year, 14 (70%) patients maintained or surpassed their initial post-surgical weight loss (equivalent to the amount removed during surgery). At 2 years, women with a BMI of 24.5 or higher experienced an average 4.5% reduction of their original BMI. A BMI between 18.5 and 25 is considered normal; 25 to 30 is “overweight”; 30+ is “obese.”


Feeling Full

While the idea of using a cosmetic surgical procedure to lose weight is frequently met with criticism, this study found that it was the feeling of fullness, a byproduct of the surgery, contributed to patient ability to keep the weight off. Three-quarters of study patients who underwent a tummy tuck reported feeling fuller during their days whether it was post-meal or not. As the ASPS release emphasizes, US obesity rates are still on the rise and there is a continuing need to find and provide and safe and effective alternatives to gastric bypass and bariatric surgery, which are often only available to morbidly obese patients (body mass index (BMI) 40+).


In other words, those who were closer to “obese” experienced the best long-term weight results with tummy tuck surgery.


The study was conducted by Dr. Rex Edward Moulton-Barrett (Alameda Hospital) and colleagues. In addition to feeling fuller, these study authors suggest that the amount of fat removed may also be partly responsible for continued weight loss post surgery terms of a reduced number of appetite-related hormone responses in the neuroendocrine system. More research is needed to clarify this early evidence.


In the words of Dr. Moulton-Barrett et al., “Whether or not long-term weight reduction is associated with abdominoplasty has been little investigated and remains controversial."


Importantly, if this eventually is shown to be a viable option for weight loss, it won’t address the more detailed cosmetic concerns that patients today turn to liposuction and liposuction-alternatives for. However, it just may be another valuable tool in the health-weight toolbox.


Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery is the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, and is published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, part of Wolters Kluwer Health.