The Psychology of Body Contouring

Study shows liposuction and tummy tuck boost self-esteem

We’ve all heard it: Cosmetic surgery procedures may help to improve self-esteem. But can liposuction really make you feel better about yourself? According to a recent study published in the April issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, chances are, the answer is yes! Study lead Eric Swanson, MD, a plastic surgeon in Leawood, Kan., also reports that when you double up, combining liposuction with abdominoplasty (tummy tuck), the end result (physical and psychological) only gets better.

According to an ASPS press release, the overall value in Dr. Swanson’s study is that the results may provide both surgeons and patients with a better idea of what can truly be expected with regard to recovery time and realistic expectations of results.

The Study
A total of 360 patients who had abdominal liposuction (n = 219), tummy tuck (n = 13), or both (n = 128) participated in in-person interviews an average of 4 months post surgery. They answered questions related to recovery, results, complications, psychological factors and more. Study participants were 85% female with an average age of 42 years.

The majority of patients underwent liposuction either alone or in combination with tummy tuck (n = 347). While those with liposuction alone experienced a significantly faster recovery (by 10 days) and less pain compared with the combined liposuction-abdominoplasty patient group (p ≤ .01 and p < .001, respectively), those in the liposuction-abdominoplasty group reported a significantly higher satisfaction rating with results (p < .001).

On a scale of 1 to 10, patients who had an abdominoplasty (with or without liposuction) rated their results higher (average of 9) than those who had liposuction only (average of 8), but the highest satisfaction levels reported were with those patients who had combined liposuction and abdominoplasty.

But the true test: Would they do it again? Nearly all (98%) of the patients in the liposuction-abdominoplasty group said yes.

In the end, whether patients had liposuction with or without abdominoplasty, overall patient satisfaction was high (89%). Of all patients, 70% reported improvements in quality of life and 86% experienced improved self-esteem.

In Dr. Swanson’s own words, "Liposuction and abdominoplasty, individually and in combination, produce high rates of patient satisfaction and reliably improve self-esteem."

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.