Body contouring rare after weight-loss surgery

Wed Sep 28, 2011 12:13pm EDT
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(Reuters) - Patients who have had weight loss surgery rarely have excess skin removed, although it can be such a bother for people who have shed a lot of weight that it has a negative impact on their quality of life, a poll said.

Plastic surgeons said patients either don't know about this extra surgery, called body contouring, or simply can't afford it -- yet doctors say it's more than just a cosmetic procedure.

"It is surgery that improves patients' quality of life," said Jason Spector at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, to Reuters Health.

The excess skin that is left after severe weight loss can get in the way of exercising, interfere with patients' ability to wear clothes properly, and cause rashes and serious infections.

Spector said weight loss surgery, also called bariatric surgery, is just the first step.

"In order to complete the journey, patients really do need to undergo the appropriate post-bariatric body contouring. Even though that has a slightly cosmetic ring to it, it's certainly something that we, as plastic surgeons, would consider reconstructive," he added.

To get a sense of how many patients were actually going on to have body contouring surgery, Spector and his team mailed a survey to 1,158 patients whose operations were done by two surgeons between 2003 and 2011. They received 284 responses.

Only a quarter of the patients said they discussed body contouring with their surgeon around the time of the operation, with about 12 percent actually undergoing the procedure, said Spector, who presented the findings at the annual meeting of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

The most frequent reasons for not having body contouring were expense and lack of awareness of the procedure. Nearly 30 percent of the patients said they might have chosen differently if they had received more information.   Continued...

<p>Registered Nurse Amanda Tyacke (L) injects saline solution through the abdomen of Jazmine Raygoza, 17 (R) into an under-skin port which will fill Raygoza's Lap-Band at Rose Medical Center in Denver August 3, 2011 about 6 weeks after Jazmine's surgery. After trying multiple diets and exercise Raygoza decided on the surgery with the encouragement of her mother Veronica who recently had gastric bypass. At the six week mark Jazmine had lost 21 pounds. REUTERS/Rick Wilking</p>