Diet, exercise, and surgery

Check out most pre and post operative pictures for body contouring in plastic surgery sites, and you will see that in most cases the postoperative photos will show some weight loss in areas AWAY from the surgery sites. This is no accident, as those patients really do look better. Better yet, when you see those shows as “The Swan,” you see the patients are literally sequestered from home and put in a boot camp of sorts where their diet is controlled, they work out, and finally get the surgery. Again, this is no accident. The best “surgical” results are obtained when the patient is motivated enough to change diet and exercise patterns in addition to the surgery.

If you only diet, the weight loss will occur faster in some areas than others, depending on your body type. The trouble is that the areas you’re most concerned about are the ones where you tend to lose weight last. For example, you may want to lose weight in the hips, but when you diet, your breasts may lose volume before you before the hips come down even a smidgen. Furthermore, when you gain weight it will come first in the area you hate it most. Dieting is good for you, but it doesn’t get you in shape and it doesn’t change your body type.

If you only exercise, you may not necessarily lose weight. Did you know that one candy bar has enough calories to make up for what you burned off in a 30 minute aerobic workout? Since muscle is heavier than fat, some patients may even gain a little weight when they start working out. Having said that, I wholeheartedly recommend exercise because it has many beneficial effects on your body and muscle tone does really improve your “frame”, as well as make you feel better, sleep better, etc.

If you only do surgery, you may look great for a while, but you really haven’t done anything to improve your health. I have seen plenty of patients who have liposuction or get a tummy tuck only to show up a year later having gained weight and wanting a “touch up” or lipo in another area where the weight has shifted to.

Things start looking a lot better when you do 2 of the 3 things (diet, exercise, surgery). For example, the old classic is diet and exercise. It does wonders to your health and wellbeing and it does change your body contour. Diet and surgery also work well together in that the surgery not only changes your body contour but also your body type. By changing body type I mean that you not only slim down but that the proportion between body sections can change, for example the mid section in relation to the legs.

Exercise and surgery also complement each other well. I have a picture in my office of a patient who had a tummy tuck and afterwards was so excited she started going to the gym regularly. She looked great and I always subconsciously showed her profile first. One day I realized it was because not only her tummy looked great, but her back had a nice curve to it, the butt had a better curve, and the legs had better tone. The whole effect was a transformation of her body from a post pregnancy “saggy appearance” to looking like a bathing suit model.

The most dramatic results are when patients do all three. These patients transform not only their bodies but their lives as well. I think that the sense of self mastery these patients get gives them a lot of self confidence. When it comes to body contouring surgery, its better to tell the patient that the surgery will take them part of the way where they want to go. If they want spectacular, life changing results, they have to change dietary and exercise patterns.

By Dr. Ricardo L. Rodriguez MD Board Certified Plastic Surgeon Cosmeticsurg Baltimore, Maryland Ricardo L. Rodriguez on American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

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