A comparative analysis and systematic review of the wound-healing milieu: implications for body contouring after massive weight loss

Plast Reconstr Surg. 2009 Nov;124(5):1675-1682. doi: 10.1097/PRS.0b013e3181b98bb4.


Background: Wound-healing complications following body contouring for massive weight loss patients are significant, with rates exceeding 40 percent. To better understand aberrant healing in this population, the authors have performed a comparative analysis of the wound milieu literature for patient populations with similar complication rates.

Methods: PubMed and Ovid databases were reviewed from January of 1985 to January of 2009 for key terms, including wound healing, obesity, cancer, burn, transplant, and body contouring. Serum and wound levels of multiple factors, including matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and cytokines, were assessed.

Results: Complication rates in body contouring surgery range from 31 to 66 percent. Sixty-five studies were reviewed, and wound-healing complication rates were identified for cancer (45.8 percent), burn (30.4 percent), posttransplant (36 percent), and obese (43 percent) populations. In these groups, matrix metalloproteinases and tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinase (TIMPs) help regulate wound repair. Matrix metalloproteinase levels were elevated in cancer (4-fold increase in MMP-2), burn (20- to 30-fold increase in MMP-9), transplant (1.4-fold increase in MMP-2), and obese/chronic (79-fold increase) populations. TIMPs were increased in cancer (1.9-fold increase in TIMP-2) and burn (1.4-fold increase in TIMP-1) patients but decreased in chronic wound (55-fold decrease in TIMP-1) populations. Alterations to these regulatory proteins lead to prolonged matrix degradation, up-regulation of inflammatory mediators, and decreased growth factors, delaying the wound-healing process.

Conclusions: Complications after body contouring surgery are likely multifactorial; however, molecular imbalances to the massive weight loss wound milieu may contribute to poor surgical outcomes. Examining wound regulatory proteins including transforming growth factor-beta, vascular endothelial growth factor, and matrix metalloproteinases could aid in understanding the healing difficulties observed clinically.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Bariatric Surgery
  • Biomarkers / metabolism*
  • Burns / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 2 / metabolism
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 3 / metabolism
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 9 / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Obesity / metabolism*
  • Organ Transplantation*
  • Plastic Surgery Procedures*
  • Tissue Inhibitor of Metalloproteinase-1 / metabolism
  • Tissue Inhibitor of Metalloproteinase-2 / metabolism
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / metabolism
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / metabolism
  • Weight Loss*
  • Wound Healing*


  • Biomarkers
  • Tissue Inhibitor of Metalloproteinase-1
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Tissue Inhibitor of Metalloproteinase-2
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 3
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 2
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 9