How Weight Loss Increases Cravings for Cosmetic Surgery

The quest for rapid and effective weight loss strategies has been relentless as individuals seek unconventional avenues beyond diet and exercise to sculpt their ideal physique.

One notable weight loss trend that has become increasingly popular is the use of medications classified as glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists, like Ozempic, Wegovy, and Mounjaro. GLP-1 receptor agonists were originally developed to treat type 2 diabetes.

However, researchers noticed a surprising side effect—significant weight loss. The mechanism behind their weight loss properties is multifaceted.

They reduce cravings by acting on regions of the brain responsible for hunger regulation and they slow down the rate of digestion leading to increased feelings of fullness after meals. The popularity of these medications garnered mainstream attention as celebrities like Elon Musk and Amy Schumer have come forward to discuss their off-label use for weight loss.

So how does all of this relate to a rising demand for cosmetic surgery in this patient population?

It is important to recognize that weight loss does not selectively target body parts. While fat reduction in areas like the abdomen, love handles, or buttocks is generally anticipated, fat loss in the face is often overlooked.

Facial Fat Loss Can Lead to an Aged Appearance

Loss of facial fat can deplete volume in the cheeks, temples, chin, and around the eyes: Key sites where volume makes the face appear more youthful. Wrinkles may become more pronounced and skin laxity around these facial regions can appear more prominent, giving an undesirable aged appearance.

Previous research (Couto) has shown that people who experience significant weight loss are perceived on average 5 years older than their actual age. While the term “Ozempic face” has been coined to delineate these facial changes among patients who use the medication, it is important to recognize that facial volume loss and skin laxity are shared across other weight loss strategies (e.g., bariatric surgery, extreme dieting).

These changes are prompting some patients to seek out cosmetic procedures to harmonize their facial appearance with their new physique.

Patients Seek Cosmetic Surgery

The rising interest in cosmetic surgery among individuals undergoing extensive weight loss goes beyond the desire to fill in some missing facial volume. Weight loss can have a profound impact on an individual’s self-esteem, body satisfaction, and overall quality of life. Cosmetic surgery has been shown to help patients maintain their weight loss goals.

Prior research (Zuelzer) found that patients with excess skin after substantial weight loss were less likely to maintain their new weight in the future. A study (Balagué) of 200 patients who lost substantial weight following gastric bypass surgery found that those who underwent cosmetic body contouring procedures had better long-term weight control compared to those who did not.

Cosmetic Surgery May Help Patients Maintain Weight Loss Goals

These findings may be due to several interconnected factors. Enhanced body image and confidence may motivate patients to continue physical activity and balanced nutrition to preserve positive changes. Removal of excess skin that can cause physical discomfort may allow patients to more readily engage in physical activity.

Lastly, restoring a more harmonious physical appearance can symbolize closure on a transformative chapter in a patient’s life. This closure can serve as a powerful psychological incentive to continue making healthy choices and sustain the weight loss.

Weight loss is a journey that extends beyond the numbers on a scale. GLP-1 receptor agonists and other weight loss strategies should be discussed with a trained professional to help patients achieve their weight loss goals.

Cosmetic surgery may empower patients to maintain that goal by helping them fully embrace their new body habits with confidence.


See the original post, co-authored by Dr. Amir Hakimi, on Psychology Today.

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