Body contouring procedures improve long-term weight control following gastric bypass surgery, according to a new study in the October issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

Researchers led by Ali Modarressi, MD, and colleagues of University of Geneva, Switzerland, compared long-term weight outcomes in 98 patients who had gastric bypass followed by body contouring procedures and a matched group of 102 patients with similar characteristics who underwent gastric bypass without body contouring.

Within 2 years after gastric bypass, the patients had lost an average of nearly 100 pounds. In subsequent years, patients who underwent body contouring regained less weight: an average of just over 1 pound per year, compared to 4 pounds per year for patients who had gastric bypass only, the study showed.

Seven years after gastric bypass, patients who underwent body contouring surgery achieved an average weight of 176 pounds. Those patients who has bariatric surgery alone weighed about 220 pounds on average. Participants’ average weight before gastric bypass was 275 pounds in both groups. Patients who underwent body contouring had regained about 4% of their initial body weight, compared to 11% for those who had gastric bypass only.

After accounting for the weight of excess skin removed, average weight regain was about 14 pounds in patients who had gastric bypass plus body contouring, compared to nearly 50 pounds with gastric bypass only, researchers report.

“Since plastic surgery after massive weight loss is mandatory for quality of life improvement and weight loss maintenance in many patients, body contouring must be considered a reconstructive surgery for those who have achieved massive weight loss,” the study authors conclude.