News article

Massive weight loss can increase the risk of complications after aesthetic surgery

Posted:  Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Individuals planning to undergo aesthetic surgery to remove excess sagging fat and skin after massive weight loss are more prone to develop post-surgical complications, found a recent study.

According to the study published in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal, people who have lost more than 100 pounds, either by rigorous dieting or bariatric surgery, are more likely to experience complications when opting for aesthetic surgeries such as body lifts, tummy tuck, thighplasty, arm lifts, breast lifts, breast reduction, and liposuction.

The researchers involved in the study from the UT Southwestern Medical Center conducted statistical analyses to identify risk factors and to determine the probability of patients experiencing healing issues or complications after surgery in 450 patients. The study group included men and women from all age groups. Of the 450 patients, 124 patients lost 50 pounds or more before the surgery.

The study found that patients with a weight loss history of more than 100 pounds, irrespective of the weight loss method, were at a high risk of experiencing complications such as infection, delayed healing, ruptures, and reddening of skin. Patients who had undergone gastric bypass were at greater risk of developing complications than patients who had lost weight through diet and exercise. Among the surgical weight loss patients, the risk of complications was the lowest in patients who had undergone restrictive bariatric procedures such as gastric sleeve or the Lap-Band.

The increased risk of complications in individuals with massive weight loss via bariatric surgery could be attributed to the lack of proper nutrition. Most patients tend to consume less than 1000 calories daily after bariatric surgery. This could lead to protein and other nutrient deficiencies. The bodies of these patients adapt to the new nutritional state and are overwhelmed when subjected to the stress related to the surgeries.

“Nutrition plays an important role in skin healing, collagen production, and the generation of new blood vessels, all of which are important during recovery," said senior researcher Dr. Kenkel. He additionally stressed the necessity for patients to assess their diet for any deficiencies and prepare their bodies for surgery.

UT Southwestern Medical Center plastic surgeons recommend assessing the nutritional status of patients before surgery and prescribe vitamin-mineral-protein supplements to counter any nutritional deficit. They also mention that daily protein supplements are vital for achieving complication rates that are in line with non-bariatric candidate.

In the light of these findings, it may be suggested that plastic surgeons must exercise extra pre-operative care in individuals with massive weight loss to ensure better recovery and outcomes.

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