Summary: There’s a persistent misconception out there that a tummy tuck is actually a form of weight-loss surgery. However the real purpose of a tummy tuck, technically known as abdominoplasty, is to contour your midsection, not help you lose weight. In fact, there are five reasons why a tummy tuck can’t help with weight loss.
Tummy Tucks Remove the Wrong Kind of Fat
The body has two types of fat:
- Visceral fat builds up around the internal organs, and lies too deep to be reached by surgery. This is the type of fat that’s normally responsible for significant weight gain, and can be lost through diet and exercise.
- Subcutaneous fat lies closer to the skin’s surface, and doesn’t always respond to changes in eating patterns or activity level. A muffin top or love handles on an otherwise healthy body are perfect examples of subcutaneous fat.
Body contouring cosmetic surgery, like a tummy tuck or liposuction, target subcutaneous fat only. These procedures are ideal for fine-tuning your shape, but can’t touch the visceral fat that’s to blame for being overweight.
Tummy Tucks Repair and Contour
Helping you lose weight isn’t how a tummy tuck works. One of the main goals of abdominoplasty is to repair abdominal muscles that have separated due to age, excess weight gain, or as the result of one or more pregnancies.
Tummy tucks can also remove the loose folds of skin that are left behind following significant weight loss. The appearance of excess, stretched-out skin that lingers following pregnancy can also be improved with a tummy tuck.
In summary, tummy tucks address localized skin laxity and muscle displacement whereas weight loss addresses excess and generalize fatty deposits.
The Best Tummy Tuck Results Are Seen in Patients of Normal Weight
When looking at the best candidates for a tummy tuck, plastic surgeons want patients who are already at or near their target weight. Surgery performed on those who are overweight or obese is far riskier and carries a much larger chance of serious complications.
Those men and women who are within a normal weight range are not only more likely to have realistic expectations about the intended outcome of their surgery—that is, they’re well aware that getting a tummy tuck is for body contouring rather than weight loss—but they’re also more likely to see better results.
Tummy Tucks Are Primarily Cosmetic
All of this is not to say that weight loss surgery can’t be beneficial for those who are overweight and haven’t been able to lose weight by traditional means. Bariatric surgery, like gastric bypass, was designed for exactly that purpose. However, a tummy tuck is not weight loss surgery. The purpose of a tummy tuck is to improve the aesthetics of your body, not to help you lose weight.
Cosmetic Surgery Complements a Healthy Lifestyle
In all cases, cosmetic surgery should be viewed as a complement to—rather than a replacement for—an already healthy lifestyle. If you’re in reasonably good shape, you eat right and stay active, and you’re committed to taking care of yourself over the long haul, then you’re probably a good candidate for a tummy tuck.
On the other hand, overweight men or women who hope that body contouring can stand in as some kind of shortcut to achieving the perfect body are bound to be disappointed by their tummy tuck results. If, however, those same less-than-ideal tummy tuck candidates put in the hard work to get healthy first and find they’re left with loose skin and excess tissue even after reaching their target weight, a tummy tuck could provide the perfect finishing touch.