Imagine feeling inhibited in your daily activities because you’re extremely self-conscious about a certain area of your body. According to a study published in the August issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery®, the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), prospective tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) patients have great dissatisfaction with the appearance of their abdomens, which ultimately affects how they feel and act in certain situations.
“The importance of evaluating the psychological motivations and outcomes of patients undergoing aesthetic surgery has been long recognized; however, this study runs counter to previously published research,” said John Persing, MD, co-author of the study. “We were surprised to see that patients already had a good general self image but had a very negative perception of one particular part of their body, which indicates that our patients functioned well in their lives before surgery but felt restricted by their abdomen.”
“Most of the people who came in for tummy tucks were interested in having a less-restrictive lifestyle,” continued Dr. Persing. “They often felt inhibited in the type of clothing they could wear or how they could interact with their partner.”
The study prospectively evaluated 30 consecutive female tummy tuck patients, preoperatively and postoperatively, using measures of body image, psychological investment in appearance and general psychosocial functioning.
While there was no reliable change in self-esteem, social anxiety or overall satisfaction with life, the patients did report significant postoperative reductions in self-consciousness and avoidance of body exposure during sexual activities.
In addition, although patients weight did not change after surgery, patients reported improvements in satisfaction with their weight. Although it is not exactly clear why patients would report increased satisfaction with their weight in absence of weight loss, the study suggests that patients may focus on the slimming effect of tummy tucks.
“I was extremely pleased to see how delighted patients were after the surgery. A key factor in ensuring our patients were happy with the surgical outcome was managing their expectations,” stated Dr. Persing. “As board-certified plastic surgeons, we always want to be sure that people know what to expect from surgery and, where appropriate, help those who have unrealistic expectations modify them through further discussion or additional evaluations.”