Can a tummy tuck make you healthier?

An abdominoplasty, or tummy tuck, is an extremely popular operation for people who have lost weight, gone through the rigors of pregancy and motherhood, or feel unhappy with the way a belly bulge looks in their clothes.

The operation involves removing the extra skin and fat of the belly, with an incision hidden in the area covered by your swimsuit. For most people, it is an elective procedure that allows you to go home the same day and be back at work in two weeks. 

Now, new research points to another reason to give tummy tucks their due: they may help people stay healthier.

In the October 2013 issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Swiss researchers demonstrate that people who have weight-loss surgery (or bariatric surgery, such as a gastric bypass) and then go on to have a tummy tuck are more likely to keep their weight off. Specifically, these patients gain about 1 pound a year after their initial weight loss, compared to bariatric patients who don't have tummy tucks to remove the extra skin and fat, who gain 4 pounds a year.

In my practice, I have found that an abdominoplasty is often a wonderful bit of extra motivation for people to lose their last five pounds, to go to the gym, or to maintain healthy lifestyles.  Not only does it revive people's self image, but it can motivate them to stay healthier, longer.

Read coverage of this story in the Wall Street Journal

Read coverage of this story in the Wall Street Journal