Maintaining Long Term Results

Dr. Shah’s Patient Pointers | Maintaining Excellent Long-Term Results after Liposuction or Tummy Tuck

Research Shows There Are Four Factors to Forever

We now have hard evidence supporting the fact that in order to maintain the positive results of a procedure such as liposuction or abdominoplasty (tummy tuck), patients must adopt a healthy lifestyle post surgery. In an in-depth study titled “The Key to Long-Term Success in Liposuction: A Guide for Plastic Surgeons and Patients” — presented in the prestigious journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (December 004)—researchers identify four key factors necessary to achieving long-term improvements in body contour and the subsequent high levels of patient satisfaction that go with it:

  • Proper diet
  • Exercise
  • Other positive lifestyle behaviors
  • Successful contouring (dictated by the skill and experience of the surgeon)

Since the surgeon is only responsible for one of the four, researchers labeled the remaining three (those in the hands of the patients themselves) “positive lifestyle changes.” They then set out to prove the link between making these three positive lifestyle changes and maintaining the results of liposuction long term.

Specifics of the Study

The basis for this analysis—led by Dr. Rohrich, out of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas—is an extensive survey mailed to 600 patients who had undergone liposuction between 1999 and 2003 (the majority more than two years prior to the study). The survey, which gathered information about the procedure itself, lifestyle habits, and satisfaction ratings, was completed and returned by 209 of the targeted recipients.

The results of the survey were interpreted by splitting respondents into two categories: those who had gained weight since their procedure and those who had stayed the same or lost. Researchers chose weight gain as the variable, as they felt weight gain was an accurate reflection of patient commitment to the three factors that were within their control (diet, exercise, and other positive lifestyle habits). In other words, patients who either maintained their post-op weight or lost additional weight were considered to have adhered to the three factors, while those who had gained weight during the year(s) following their procedure were considered to have not.

Statistically Significant Conclusions

While the survey analyzed a number of variables, all data collected supports the notion that in order for body contouring to withstand the test of time (and thus allow the patient a continued “good” or “excellent” rating of their appearance), the patient must embrace positive lifestyle habits. When they do, they can infinitely prolong the aesthetic changes achieved by body-shaping procedures.

Of those who responded, 43% had gained weight since their procedure, while 57% had not:

  • Of those who had gained weight, 72% reported they would still have the procedure again, while this figure rose to 82% among those who had lost or stayed the same.
  • Of those who had gained weight, 74% said they would recommend the procedure to friends or family; of those who had not gained, that number was an astounding 90%.
  • Finally, of those who had gained weight (or not practiced positive lifestyle behaviors), only 29% described their appearance as “excellent or good.” In contrast, among the non-gainers, 79% described their appearance as such.

Roadmap to Success

Need more specific direction? Well, the report doesn’t stop there. This statistically grounded study not only supports the part played by lifestyle habits in long-term body contouring, it also uses the results to provide patients and surgeons with an actual “roadmap” to aid them in navigating the path to success. The flowchart diagram below provides a roadmap to aid in navigating the path to success by walking patients through the mathematically expected outcomes of various lifestyle choices, allowing them to make the most informed decisions possible.

What the Results Mean for You

The results of this study should be interpreted optimistically: You are in control of your own destiny…and by engaging in basic, health-conscious behaviors, you can continue to enjoy your post-surgery appearance indefinitely.

It is also important to point out that adopting healthy habits does not mean complete deprivation, forever foregoing your favorite foods, or engaging in extreme behavior. Dr. Shah recommends following a common sense plan consisting of healthier food choices, general portion control, and 30-45 minutes of cardiovascular exercise three to four times a week.

The third factor, described as “other positive lifestyle behaviors,” includes eliminating smoking and overconsumption of alcohol (which is also high in calories, stimulates appetite, and undermines willpower) as well as making modifications to a sedentary lifestyle, e.g., taking the stairs instead of the elevator, choosing a farther parking space, or spending family time bonding over physical activities instead of television.

The guidelines for resuming exercise post surgery are as follows: You can start low-impact aerobic exercise two to three weeks after your procedure, which includes walking on a treadmill at a low setting, using an elliptical machine, or riding a stationary bike. After four weeks, you can ease your way back into a full routine. If you are having trouble doing so, or if you don’t know what to do, you might consider hiring a trainer for a couple months to help you learn the basics. If you are having any problems or if you do not see the weight on the scale decreasing, please call Dr. Shah immediately, so we can address the issue and get you back on track.

Surgery as a Springboard to a New You

An inspiring outcome we observe is that once patients have a chance to enjoy the aesthetic results of their surgery and how good they feel in terms of increased confidence and energy, these feelings motivate them to do even more to promote overall health and vitality. More and more, we are hearing patients marvel that their body sculpting procedure served as a springboard to other lifestyle changes, and that they couldn’t imagine going back to their pre-procedure habits!

Beautologie offers weight loss programs, intense training programs with local gyms, dietician consultations, and other options for getting you on the path to health and fitness. If you have questions regarding proper diet, exercise, or other lifestyle habits, feel free to consult with us. We are not only here to assist you in achieving an enhanced appearance, but to help you maintain your new look as well as support superior health and increased energy.

Content written and approved by Darshan Shah, MD Plastic Surgeon.

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