Body Contouring and Weight Loss Success

body_contouring_after_surgeryWeight loss surgery is an effective obesity treatment that can not only enable people to lose a significant amount of weight, but also to improve weight-related health conditions, and boost quality of life. However, after shedding the weight, many weight loss surgery patients are left with undesirable excess skin. Some patients choose to undergo body contouring, a surgical procedure that removes excess skin. But, since it is considered a cosmetic surgery, it is generally not covered by insurance. A new study, however, provides support for this procedure being considered an essential part of bariatric surgery, and one that should be covered by insurance: The study found that gastric bypass patients maintain better weight loss results after body contouring surgery.

Researchers compared the long-term weight outcomes for two groups of patients who underwent gastric bypass surgery. In 98 patients, gastric bypass was followed by body contouring procedures to remove excess fat and skin. Another 102 patients with similar characteristics underwent gastric bypass alone, without body contouring. They found that the patients had lost an average of nearly 100 pounds at two years post-surgery. In the following years, patients who had body contouring regained less weight, with an average of just over one pound per year. In comparison, those who did not undergo contouring gained four pounds per year. Some weight regain after substantial weight loss is normal, regardless of procedure or body contouring.

In the long term, patients who underwent body contouring surgery achieved an average weight of 176 pounds seven years after bariatric surgery, while those with bariatric surgery alone weighed an average of 200 pounds. Patients who had body contouring had regained about four percent of their initial body weight, compared to 11 percent for those who did not have contouring. Because maintaining weight loss to reduce long-term health problems is the primary goal of bariatric surgery, the study authors argue that body contouring should be considered reconstructive surgery for these patients, rather than cosmetic. The study was published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

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