There's more to tummy tucks than meets the eye

There's more to tummy tucks than meets the eye

A recent study showed that tummy tucks following major weight loss may do more than improve your appearance. Because a tummy tuck makes you look better, it also motivates you to keep your weight down. These surgeries can produce "a second wave of elation" that helps you stay on track to lose more weight, according to an assistant professor of plastic surgery at the University Of Maryland School Of Medicine.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the study found that those undergoing tummy tucks following bariatric surgery regained an average of just over one pound a year compared with four pounds a year for bariatric patients who didn't have contouring procedures.

In the study of 20 patients, tummy tucks led to significant and lasting weight loss for many, especially those who were overweight. Sustained weight loss was more likely for those in the study who had a greater amount of excess abdominal tissue removed

Although tummy tucks are not typically covered by insurance, they have become more and more common following bariatric surgery. The new findings, indicating increased permanence of weight loss, make a potent argument that tummy tucks are an essential part of successful weight-loss surgery and should be considered reconstructive, rather than cosmetic, and therefore insurance reimbursable. In some cases, plans pay for a panniculectomy, which removes an "apron" of skin and tissue from below the belly button that can hang as low as the knees.

Tummy tucks carry risks, including infection and blood clots, like many other surgical procedures. But a study at Montefiore Medical Center, Bronx, N.Y., found no evidence of increase in complications among obese or even morbidly obese patients who had abdominoplasty 12 to 18 months after gastric-bypass procedures.

These researchers also noted that body-contouring procedures improve daily-life activities in patients who were formerly obese. Another significant tummy tuck health bonus is that it decreases the risk of infection and improves healing after surgery. Many people who finally lose 50 or 100 pounds find themselves with a new problem: sagging extra skin and stubborn deposits of belly fat. Removing extra abdominal skin and fat can decrease the risk of infections in folds of excess skin.

According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), tummy tuck, which is also a popular component of a "Mommy Makeover," was one of the top plastic surgery procedures for women in 2012.