A tummy tuck, clinically referred to as abdominoplasty, is a type of body contouring surgery designed to tighten loose core muscles and remove excess skin & fat on the abdomen. Because a tummy tuck provides numerous benefits, ranging from increased mobility to improved posture, many patients have reported sustained weight loss following their procedures—but is this normal? Today, San Diego plastic surgeon Dr. Katerina Gallus answers the question, “Is it easier to lose weight after a tummy tuck?”
Findings from the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery journal
According to a study published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), one year after their procedure 70% of tummy tuck patients had lost weight beyond the weight they lost from surgery. On average, participants lost 4.5% of their original BMI one year after their procedure.
On average, study participants lost 4.5% of their original BMI one year after their tummy tuck.
So, what are the reasons these tummy tuck patients were able to continue weight loss following their surgeries? Let’s take a look at a few:
1. Removing excess tissues can make it easier to keep weight off
Both physical and psychological factors can help patients keep weight off—or even lose more weight—following a tummy tuck. They include :
- The physical factor: Since tummy tuck surgery removes excess skin and fat, and can correct diastasis recti (abdominal muscle separation), patients often feel lighter and more mobile after their procedure. As a result, physical activity is often easier and more enjoyable, which can encourage further weight loss.
- The psychological factor: You know that amazing feeling you get when you look in the mirror and love who you see? Because a tummy tuck can help you feel better about your appearance, it can be a huge motivator to maintain, or even improve upon, your results.
As you can see, these factors work together to create a positive feedback loop where the better you feel, the more likely you are to take good care of yourself, which in turn helps you look and feel even better.
2. A tummy tuck may help reduce hunger
While further research is still needed, another reason patients may be able to sustain weight loss after their tummy tuck is due to increased satiety—i.e. feeling fuller for a prolonged period of time after eating. According to the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery study, three-fourths of participants reported an increased feeling of satiety after their tummy tuck. Researchers posit that this may be due to two reasons:
- Tightening of the abdominal muscles. Plication, or tightening, of the abdominal muscles during tummy tuck surgery may restrict the stomach’s ability to expand, thus making it more difficult to overeat.
- Changes in the neuroendocrine system. Because hormones that cause hunger are stored in fat cells, tummy tuck surgery may reduce hunger by removing fat cells in the abdomen.
Researchers believe that tummy tuck surgery may curb hunger, helping patients keep weight off following their procedure.
Tummy tuck vs. weight loss surgery: which is right for me?
According to the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery study, long-term weight loss was more common among women who had an initial BMI of 24.5 or greater (a BMI of 25-30 is considered overweight). Furthermore, another study examining the outcomes of abdominoplasty among overweight and obese patients concluded that “patient satisfaction is overwhelmingly high” among this population.
That said, if you have a BMI greater than 35, you may be a better candidate for weight loss surgery than a tummy tuck. Weight loss, or bariatric, surgery can help people with more significant amounts of body fat reach a healthy, stable weight. Once your target weight is achieved, a tummy tuck combined with liposuction can help remove the excess skin and stubborn fat deposits you may still have after weight loss surgery, and tighten separated stomach muscles.
Avoid weight gain with proper diet & exercise
While a tummy tuck can help you sculpt your abdomen after pregnancy or weight fluctuations, it shouldn’t be seen as a weight loss solution. In fact, you should be at or near your goal weight before undergoing abdominoplasty to help ensure you achieve the best results.
At Restore SD Plastic Surgery, we like to think of tummy tuck surgery as the opportunity to fine-tune your belly and jump-start a healthy lifestyle. Most of our patients are so thrilled with their slimmer, tighter abdomens that they become highly motivated to eat healthily and exercise regularly.
Looking for tummy tuck surgery in San Diego? Contact abdominoplasty specialist Dr. Gallus
San Diego plastic surgeon Dr. Katerina Gallus is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgeons and is a member of the ASPS. Originally a Navy plastic surgeon, Dr. Gallus has over a decade of experience performing tummy tucks and other body contouring procedures. She was a co-author on the informative tummy tuck study, “Case Report: Functional Improvement Following Diastasis Rectus Abdominus Repair in an Active-Duty Female” published in Military Medicine in 2016. Find out if a tummy tuck is right for you during a personal consultation—schedule yours online or call (858) 224-2281 today.