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Does protein help heal after major weight loss surgery?

Posted: March 30, 2016 > tummy tuck > Blog Home


Journal time! February 2016 Aesthetic Surgery Journal article looking at healing for tummy tuck patients in those who have undergone massive weight loss following bariatric surgery (not those who lost weight with diet and exercise alone).  This is focused on those who had bariatric surgery because we know these patients may have absorption issues following their surgeries and can be anemic and deficient in certain vitamins.  The title of the study: “The Impact of Protein Nutritional Supplementation for Massive Weight Loss Patients Undergoing Abdominoplasty.” 


  • Retrospective review
  • 46 patients. 23 of which had pretreatment with protein.
  • All patients had lost at least 50 pounds, sustained for a minimum of 1 year following bariatric surgery.
  • The supplement: a low calorie, all natural over the counter why isolate protein powder with no added vitamins or minerals.
  • The supplement was done for one month prior and one month after surgery.


  • Wound complication rates were significantly lower in the protein supplement group. 0.0% vs. 21.8%
  • Authors note: most of their study patients had gastric banding, which is a restrictive procedure, not gastric bypass, where there can be malabsorption


I think good nutrition is good for any surgery, particularly one with a large incision to heal like abdominoplasty, breast lift / breast reduction, or facelift.  For those who have had bariatric surgery, the issues with nutrition and absorption are  higher.  I see many patients whose diets are deficient in protein.  I have had a patient with poor healing after surgery when she did not eat for a week following surgery.  I think this study is a good reminder how a simple, easy thing (protein powder for a month before and after surgery) can help avoid issues.

Please keep in mind: subjects covered in this blog and certain tips and advice are not substitutes for professional medical advice. This blog is for general informational purposes only. If you are considering plastic surgery, reconstructive surgery, or cosmetic enhancement, you should always consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon and/or your general practitioner in-person for professional medical advice.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment.

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