The best results from a tummy tuck come when the person loses weight in addition to the surgery itself. A big question frequently asked to me is, “When is the best time to lose weight with my surgery? Should weight loss be before surgery or is weight loss after ok?” This educational writing will review this extremely important topic. I will review the advantages and disadvantages of weight loss before and after abdominoplasty. This writing was done at the request of a patient of mine from Philadelphia, PA.
In general, fat is the enemy! The goal of a tummy tuck or an abdominoplasty is to look smaller, flatter, and more sculpted in the abdominal area. Fat loss will help with these goals. Liposuction is part of a tummy tuck, and liposuction involves sucking out excess fat. Tummy tucks involve surgically removing excess skin and fat. Weight loss will compliment these procedures. The goal is fat reduction. Weight loss will magnify these results and help with thinner appearances and flatter abdomens. Weight loss is always important. It is important before AND after surgery. Two thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. It’s extremely important to understand that weight loss is part of the process of looking better. It’s not just surgery, but the combination of diet, exercise, and proper nutrition to look better.
Weight Loss Before Surgery
Weight loss before surgery is safe and healthy. It can help lower risks for surgery and give better results. In the olden days of plastic and cosmetic surgery, the view was that weight loss had to be done before surgery. It was recommended that patients lose enough pounds to be within 10% of ideal body weight. According to the National Institute of Health, ideal weight for a 5′ 4″ women would be between 110 to 140 pounds. This would mean that a women who was 5′ 4″ and weighed 175 pounds would have to lose approximately 20 lbs to get to about 155 lbs, to be within 10%. That’s a lot of weight to lose. If it was that easy, most people wouldn’t be overweight or need the help from cosmetic surgery. This recommendation doomed many patients. They were told to come back after losing 20 lbs or more, and then they could get there abdominoplasty. Too many people left the consultation frustrated and disappointed, and they never lost the weight or got the procedure.
There are two reasons for this recommendation of weight loss before the operation:
1 : Weight loss before is healthy. Losing weight before surgery is smart, and smaller body weights lead to safer operations and less risks. All this is still important and true today.
2 : Weight loss after surgery might lead to excess and loose skin. The idea is that the result could be ruined if someone has a tummy tuck and then proceeds to lose weight afterwards. It is believed by some that too much weight loss after surgery is bad because of the possible development of loose skin and worse results. Weight loss is pushed by some doctors as being necessary before surgery.
I can confidently say that weight loss is good before surgery AND good after surgery as well. Weight loss after surgery does not ruin results, in my opinion, but makes things even better! This is reviewed in the section below. I strongly recommend weight loss at all times, and after surgery it will make the results even better.
Weight Loss After Surgery
If a tummy tuck patient wants the best results after surgery, lose weight and really try harder after surgery. I will tell my patients if you want to turn the home run into a grand slam, then lose weight. As I have said FAT IS THE ENEMY! In contrast to the belief that weight loss after surgery will lead to excess skin, I have not found this to be clinically true or relevant in this situation. In my vast cosmetic surgery experience, I have never seen weight loss afterwards to be anything but good.
I explain and describe it this way. If we do a tummy tuck, most people are very happy with the results. Now imagine you lose 10 lbs, the person is even happier. They are now flatter and thinner. Lose 20 lbs, the person is typically ecstatic over the results now. I have never had a single patient lose weight after surgery and be unhappy. The development of loose skin in this situation is rare because the excess skin has already been removed. I once had a patient lose 100 lbs after surgery. In this extreme situation, she had developed some extra skin in the stomach area, but she was still completely happy. The surgery had helped her achieve this transformation. She was still happy as could be with her results. As I have said, I have never seen weight loss after surgery do anything but make better results and make people happy.
I recommend weight loss before and after surgery. Weight loss before is healthy and leads to safer operations and lower risks. If a patient is extremely overweight, I won’t do surgery until we can get weight down to a level where surgery is safe. After surgery, I educate the patient on the most modern and latest methods of weight loss. After surgery is the best time to lose the pounds in my opinion!
After surgery, I have found patients are extremely motivated to shed the pounds and are much more successful than they normally word be. Why? It’s motivation. They have spent a large amount of money for their surgery. They have recovered. They see benefit. They don’t want to ruin it. In this situation, I can help the patient be motivated to lose weight. It’s not easy, but the surgery provides the extra motivation for success. Many of my patients will lose 5-25 pounds. It requires effort of coarse. And I provide the doctor support and education. Good diet, nutrition, and exercise are the keys to weight loss. For those interested in more information on the best nutrition, Click here.
Weight loss is a big part of a tummy tuck. The enemy is fat, so it makes sense to lose weight. Weight loss before surgery is recommended, as this is common and good advise for all people. But in my experience, it’s the weight loss afterwards that makes all the difference. It improves results and satisfaction. The patient is motivated. They have already seen excellent improvement and want it better. I provide the nutritional advice and help to turn the desire into reality. By working together, I have found that patients can help themselves look better and be healthier. With hard work, we can turn the tummy tuck result from a home run into a grand-slam !!