According to the National Eating Disorder Association, 20 million women and 10 million men have suffered from an eating disorder at some point in their lives. These eating disorders led to a question of the effects of liposuction performed on patients with eating disorders. If liposuction could change the way a person feels about themselves, then perhaps it can have a positive impact on their eating habits. If a person looks and feels good, they often have a healthier outlook on life as well as make better choices for their body and mind.
Since little was known about the impact of liposuction and body satisfaction in conjunction with a person’s eating habits, Finnish doctors and researchers began a study with 61 women with an average age of 44 and an average body mass index (BMI) of 26.0. The liposuction procedure was performed at the Plastic Surgery Hospital KL in Helsinki under the guidance of the Surgical Ethics Research Committee of the Pirkanmaa Hospital District. The primary focus was each patient receiving liposuction on their abdominal and/or thigh region. The patients were fitted with compression garments to be worn after surgery for four weeks. During the four week recovery period, the patients were monitored with standard post-surgical checkups.
The tracking began with each patient’s body image prior to the procedure. It was then followed by the same evaluation post-surgery using three detailed tracking tools. A 15-question general quality of life questionnaire, an eating disorder inventory and a variation of the Beck depression inventory was used. The 15-questions concentrated on mental functions, usual activities, speech, vitality, mobility, breathing, sexual activity, eating, sleeping, vision, distress, discomfort and depression for the patients. The eating disorder inventory contained 64 questions that included body dissatisfaction, perfectionism, drive for thinness, maturity fears, bulimia, ineffectiveness and interpersonal distrust. The depression inventory used during the research has been utilized in Finland for over 3 decades to assess depression and anxiety. The study was published in the Journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons’ Volume 3, Issue 7 in an article titled, “Does Liposuction Improve Body Image and Symptoms of Eating Disorders?”
The follow-up phase of the study concluded that patients who underwent liposuction did improve their self-confidence but there was an overall lower risk of developing a post-surgical eating disorder. This happened to be the first official study which linked liposuction with a reduction in eating disorders. Prior to the procedure, 53% of the patients reported an abnormal drive for thinness and 56% reported dissatisfaction with their bodies. The number was significantly reduced to 19% during the follow-up phase. The study also noted that other aesthetic procedures, such as breast augmentation and abdominoplasty, can be linked to increased confidence and a lower risk for eating disorders. Therefore, the way a person feels about their appearance does have an intense mental and emotional impact on a person’s overall quality of life.