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Does Body Contouring Increase Long-Term Weight Loss After Bariatric Surgery? New Findings
Weight loss is greater for those who even consult about body contouring, reports Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery®

For patients with massive weight loss after bariatric surgery, subsequent body contouring to remove excess skin is not itself associated with long-term weight loss, reports a study in the June issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery®, the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). The journal is published in the Lippincott portfolio by Wolters Kluwer.

"In contrast to previous studies, we found that body contouring procedures do not lead to improved weight loss or weight maintenance after bariatric surgery," comments ASPS Member Surgeon Teresa Benacquista, MD, of Montefiore Medical Center, Bronx, N.Y. "Rather, the reported benefits of body contouring appear to be in improving quality of life."

New look at how body contouring affects long-term weight loss

Body contouring refers to a range of surgical procedures to remove excess skin in patients with major weight loss, with the aim of improving the patient's appearance, reducing discomfort and improving physical function. Previous studies have suggested that patients who undergo body contouring have more sustained weight loss over time, although some studies have reported conflicting results.

The study included 2,531 patients who underwent bariatric surgery between 2009 and 2012. Of these, 350 patients underwent body contouring a median of 2 years later. Another 364 patients consulted with plastic surgeons about body contouring, but did not proceed to surgery. The remaining 1,817 patients had neither body contouring nor a consultation.

At follow-up, patients who underwent body contouring did indeed have more sustained weight loss. After 1 year, average body mass index (BMI) was about 3 kg/m2 lower in the body contouring group, compared to patients who had bariatric surgery only. By 7 years, BMI was 5 kg/m2 lower for patients who underwent body contouring.

However, weight loss was also greater for patients who had a consultation but did not proceed with body contouring. For this group, average BMI was 1.5 kg/m2 lower at 1 year compared to patients without a consultation, and 2.3 kg/m2 lower after 7 years.

Further analysis focused on 259 patients from the consultation group who had sufficient weight loss to be considered candidates for body contouring. For these patients, average BMI after 7 years was about the same as for patients who underwent body contouring: 31 versus 30 kg/m2, compared to 35 kg/m2 for those with no consultation or body contouring. Analysis by percentage of excess body weight lost showed a similar pattern.

Differences in long-term weight loss by type of surgery and race/ethnicity

Weight loss was also affected by the type of bariatric surgery: patients undergoing a procedure called sleeve gastrectomy had lower sustained weight loss, compared to gastric bypass. Among body contouring patients, average difference in excess body weight loss was about 8% at 7 years' follow-up.

Black patients had lower sustained weight loss, compared to other racial/ethnic groups. In contrast to previous studies of weight loss after bariatric surgery, most patients in the new analysis identified as Black (about 29%) or Hispanic/Latinx (62%).

The study raises questions about the effects of body contouring on long-term weight loss after bariatric surgery. Noting the similar responses in patients who underwent body contouring versus those with consultation only, Dr. Benacquista and coauthors write, "[T]he impact of body contouring on weight loss is likely minimal, and the difference in weight loss as compared to the 'bariatric only' group is secondary to individual patient factors."

The researchers add: "The apparent benefits of body contouring in massive weight loss patients is likely psychosocial, related to improvements in physical functioning."

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery® is published by Wolters Kluwer.

Click here to read "Analysis of Body Contouring and Sustained Weight Loss in a Diverse, Urban Population: A 7-Year Retrospective Review"

Article: "Analysis of Body Contouring and Sustained Weight Loss in a Diverse, Urban Population: A 7-Year Retrospective Review" (doi: 10.1097/PRS.0000000000010097)

About Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

For over 75 years, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery® has been the one consistently excellent reference for every specialist who uses plastic surgery techniques or works in conjunction with a plastic surgeon. The official journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery® brings subscribers up-to-the-minute reports on the latest techniques and follow-up for all areas of plastic and reconstructive surgery, including breast reconstruction, experimental studies, maxillofacial reconstruction, hand and microsurgery, burn repair and cosmetic surgery, as well as news on medico-legal issues.

About ASPS

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) is the largest organization of board-certified plastic surgeons in the world. Representing more than 11,000 physician members worldwide, the society is recognized as a leading authority and information source on cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery. ASPS comprises more than 92 percent of all board-certified plastic surgeons in the United States. Founded in 1931, the society represents physicians certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

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