Obesity remains a growing trend across the US (and the world) and there should be a corresponding growth in cosmetic treatments that treat obese patients.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, in the US alone, around 36.5% people are obese. This is a cause for any number of health-related alarms, but will continune to drive new cosmetic medical technologies to address the effects. While any number of clinics are offering liposuction for to remove love handles or a lettle extra belly fat, more is being uncovered about the effects of plastic or cosmetic surgery especially to Massive Weight Loss (MWL) patients who have undergone bariatric surgery.
It is important to note the psychological effects and the experiences faced by patients after surgery. Studies show that most patients appear to have a positive reaction towards their newer self, but there are also negative effects that some patients report.
In the studies referenced below, researchers find that majority of their sample patients were better able to identify with their new selves (However, the sample size was only 20) and the researchers used physical health; self-esteem/appearance; social acceptance; mental health; intimacy/sexuality; social network; and self-efficacy towards eating as measures.
- Greatest change was found in physical health (Score = 21.06)
- The surgery seems a success for the patients considering their perception of self and their body image.
- A minority (n = 4) find it difficult to adjust with their new bodies and needed both recuperation and intervention be available after their bariatric and plastic surgery.
- With regard to identity transformation, the majority are satisfied with their results and embraced their new body conformation.
- Confidence played a major part with several participants as it helped them get through any issues they have encountered.
So how should providers at each end of the spectrum (bariatric surgery vs tumescent liposuction, Thermage, etc) set up patient expectations?
Clinicians, including support staff, should be prepped to answer questions and identify patients who might be at risk for acceptance of their new look including:
- Discuss with patients the possible outcomes that may occur against the patient’s expectations.
- Staff should be educated on how best to deal with patients who might have unrealistic expectations.
- Any cosmetic 'fat removal' treatment should be accompanied by a diet and excercise plan. (You might want to consider getting local gyms to offer a discount for your patients as a form of co-marketing.)
Gilmartin, SJ, Long, A and Soldin, M (2015) Identity transformation and a changed lifestyle following dramatic weight loss and body contouring surgery: An exploratory study. Journal of Health Psychology, 20 (10). 1318 - 1327. ISSN 1359-1053
Jumbe, S., Meyrick, J. and Harcourt, D. (2016) Patient’s experienceof life after weight loss surgery: Psychological adjustment. In: Appearance Matters 7, Royal College of Surgeons, London, 28-30 June 2016. Available from: http://eprints.uwe.ac.uk/29251
Avashia, Y., Nair, N., Berhane, C & Panthaki, Z. (2013). Preoperative evaluation of the postbariatric patient. In Thaller, S. & Cohen M. (Eds.), Cosmetic Surgery After Massive Weight Loss. London: JP Medical Ltd.