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Body contouring

Body contouring leads to quality of life improvements

Significant and lasting improvements in six of the seven psychosocial domains 7.2 years after body contouring surgery
Credit: by Marin

Body contouring after bariatric surgery produces long-term gains in several aspects of quality of life, according to a report in the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

"The study indicates a sustained quality of life improvement in post-bariatric patients after body contouring surgery," said study lead Dr Eva SJ van der Beek, University Medical Center Utrecht, the Netherlands.

Previous studies have shown that body contouring improves quality of life after bariatric surgery, but the long-term benefits are unclear. "There is an on-going debate if body contouring surgery is an optional or essential step after massive weight loss in the treatment of morbid obesity," the authors note.

This latest study shows significant and lasting improvements in six of the seven psychosocial domains 7.2 years after body contouring surgery including; physical functioning and appearance, mental well-being, social acceptance, intimacy and social network.

The authors report that more than two-thirds of the patients who have undergone bariatric surgery mention loose skin as a negative consequence of surgery and patient satisfaction with the result of bariatric surgery may decrease in the long term as a result of changes in physical appearance because of substantial weight loss. Skin deformities after major weight loss can result in psychological problems social problems and physical problems.

The researchers acknowledge that bariatric surgery has a beneficial influence on psychological functioning and quality of life, but stabilisation or even decline of this effect is often seen from two years post-surgery. As a result, they decided to evaluate the quality of life at long-term follow-up after body contouring procedures following bariatric surgery.


The researchers evaluated quality-of-life assessments in 33 patients who underwent body contouring after bariatric surgery. The most common procedures were abdominoplasty and operations on the breasts.

Quality of life was measured with the Obesity Psychosocial State Questionnaire in patients 7.2 years (range, 3.2 to 13.3 years) after body contouring surgery.

Data were compared with previous quality of life assessments 4.1 years (range, 0.7 to 9.2 years) after body contouring surgery, as well as before body contouring surgery.

Compared with appraisals of quality of life before body contouring surgery, a significant, mostly moderate to large, sustained improvement of quality of life was observed in post–bariatric surgery patients 7.2 years after body contouring surgery in six of the seven psychosocial domains, the authors report.

However, they did record a small deterioration occurred between 4.1- and 7.2-year follow-up on two of the seven domains. At 7-year follow-up, 18 patients (55%) were satisfied with the result of body contouring surgery.

All but one patient said they would undergo body contouring again, and considered it "an inevitable step to improve daily quality of life." About a quarter of patients had further body contouring surgery and another 30% said they would do so if their insurance covered it.


The authors concluded that the quality of life in post–bariatric surgery patients at a mean follow-up of seven years after body contouring surgery is significantly improved compared with their preoperative quality of life appraisal.

"This [study] suggests the importance of including reconstructive surgery as a component in the multidisciplinary approach in the surgical treatment of morbid obesity,” said van der Beek.

The investigators call for further study of the long-term benefits of body contouring-including possible reasons for the decrease in quality-of-life scores a few years after surgery.

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