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SUMMARY: Wait just a minute, you might be thinking.  Almost everyone knows by now that plastic surgery is not a weight loss solution. That’s true—for the most part.  But along with other top plastic surgeons in the NYC area, we do notice that there are some situations worth mentioning in which plastic surgery seems to help people achieve and maintain a healthy weight.  And there’s interesting news about this from Europe as well.

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Having been in practice in Manhattan for three decades, we have noticed a few procedures seem to have a positive impact on weight and overall health for many patients.  One is abdominoplasty, whether it’s performed as a standalone procedure or as part of mommy makeover.  A tighter, flatter tummy can give people a boost in more ways than one.  Many people, especially moms, have told us that achieving the figure they simply could not make happen on their own motivates them to drop a few pounds and keep in shape.

Breast reduction patients also get a new lease on life after cosmetic surgery—both male and female.  Men who come to us for gynecomastia surgery often report becoming regulars at the gym once they no longer feel worried about how they look.  Women tend to enjoy more physical activity after breast reduction as well, partly because they feel better about their looks and partly because exercise no longer causes pain.

We were intrigued to read about a study conducted in Geneva, Switzerland, concluding that plastic surgery after major weight loss improves patients’ ability to keep weight off.  Published in the Journal of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery last month, the study followed nearly 100 gastric bypass patients who had body contouring surgery and 100 who had bypass surgery alone.  The five Swiss researchers discovered that patients who did not have plastic surgery regained weight more readily than those who did have body contouring surgery.

The authors of the study cited both psychosocial and health-related benefits of tightening excess skin for these patients.  They argued that body contouring should be seen as reconstructive surgery following major weight loss, and furthermore, “in some cases, the treatment of the morbidly obese should not be considered successful as long as plastic surgery has not been performed.”  They believe that for morbidly obese patients, insurance companies should be motivated to cover both gastric bypass surgery and body contouring after weight loss.

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