Navigate Up

UPMC/University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Senior Director
Telephone: 412-586-9764

Patients and medical professionals may call 1-800-533-UPMC (8762) for more information.

Patients and medical professionals may call 1-800-533-UPMC (8762) for more information.

Patients and medical professionals may call 1-800-533-UPMC (8762) for more information.

UPMC Media Relations 

Body Contouring After Massive Weight Loss Improves Body Image But Some Patients Desire Even Thinner Silhouettes

PITTSBURGH, November 17, 2006 — Some women and men who undergo bariatric surgery and subsequent body contouring find themselves pleased with their significant weight loss but, over time, desire to be even thinner, according to a study published by obesity researchers of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centerin the current issue of the journal Obesity.

The study involved a group of patients who had body contouring following bariatric surgery. Body contouring after massive weight loss can alleviate common weight-loss deformities that tend to cause patients distress regarding their appearances, including excess skin, rash and hygiene problems and difficulties with mobility.

Using a rating scale specifically designed to measure quality of life in the post-bariatric population, researchers asked study participants to rate their body image, their desired silhouette, mood and quality of life at three months and again at six months following body contouring. While overall quality of life scores improved and mood remained stable over the six-month study period, study participants tended to view thinner silhouettes as the “ideal body”.

“While body contouring improves body image, often it also produces dissatisfaction with other parts of the body, suggesting that as patients become closer to their ideals, these ideals may shift,” said study author Madelyn Fernstrom, Ph.D., director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Weight Managment Center and associate professor of psychiatry, epidemiology and surgery at the University of Pittsburgh. “If we understand the issues that affect this unique group and know how to address their specific concerns, then we can help them to achieve lasting satisfaction with their weight loss and body images.”

This information, the authors suggest, may help to answer the debate about whether body contouring is a vanity operation or instead the second step in the surgical treatment of severe obesity.

“In a patient who has undergone a striking transformation from massive weight loss, everything changes – from self-image to quality of life to mood. Body contouring offers added benefits, but it also is possible that those who take this additional step cannot fully reap the psychological rewards of massive weight loss due perhaps to residual feelings of unattractiveness or self-consciousness,” said Angela Song, M.D., resident in plastic surgery, department of surgery, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

For more information on the UPMC Weight Management Center, visit

UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences Supplemental content provided by Healthwise, Incorporated. To learn more, visit

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

Pittsburgh, PA, USA |