Post-Bariatric Patients Denied Access to Body Contouring Procedures
Many Would Remove Loose Skin if Informed of Options, Insurance Covered Procedures, Study Reveals
DENVER – Despite more than 220,000 bariatric procedures are performed each year, a new study being presented at the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) annual conference, Plastic Surgery 11 THE Meeting, September 23-27, in Denver, finds the majority of post-bariatric patients are not allowed to fully complete their weight loss journey. According to the study, 75 percent of post-bariatric patients are not informed of the body contouring options available to them; however, many might undergo plastic surgery if made aware of their options.
“Bariatric surgery isn’t just a commitment to weight loss. It often requires body contouring surgeries to help the patient’s skin fit their new body,” said Jason Spector, MD, ASPS Member Surgeon and study lead author. “Many massive weight loss patients suffer large amounts of loose, sagging skin as a result of their rapid weight loss that, if not removed, can cause rashes, wounds, infection and limit comfortable mobility. It is apparent that insufficient counseling at the time of bariatric surgery is obscuring viable body contouring options for these patients.”
Of the 284 post-bariatric patients studied, only 25 percent reported discussing body contouring procedures with their bariatric surgeon pre- or post-operatively, 14 percent were referred to a plastic surgeon for consultation, and 11 percent had a body contouring procedure. Nearly 40 percent of respondents said they might have undergone plastic surgery had they received more information.
Interestingly, patients cited lack of awareness, as well as, expense as primary reasons for not having body contouring. In fact, nearly one third were unable to afford such procedures due to a lack of insurance coverage. Although 97 percent of the patients’ bariatric procedures were covered by insurance, body contouring procedures are rarely covered, as they are often considered purely cosmetic.
“There needs to be a push to have body contouring after massive weight loss covered by insurance,” said Dr. Spector. “This isn’t just aesthetic surgery. It is necessary surgery that rehabilitates patients, alleviates discomfort, and improves overall quality of life.”
Nearly 53,000 body contouring procedures after massive weight loss were performed last year, according to ASPS statistics.
The study, “Body Contouring Following Bariatric Surgery: How Much is Being Done,” is being presented Saturday, September 24, 2:45 p.m., at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver.
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) is the world’s largest organization of board-certified plastic surgeons. Representing more than 7,000 Member Surgeons, the Society is recognized as a leading authority and information source on cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery. ASPS comprises more than 94 percent of all board-certified plastic surgeons in the United States. Founded in 1931, the Society represents physicians certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery or The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. ASPS advances quality care to plastic surgery patients by encouraging high standards of training, ethics, physician practice and research in plastic surgery. For more information, please visit www.plasticsurgery.org.