Skin Texture

Skin That Nobody Needs

Is excess skin after obesity treatment medically important? Miles’ Law seems to apply: where you stand depends on where you sit. For people who have to live with the excess skin that is left after successful weight loss surgery, it’s a no-brainer. The discomfort, irritation, infections, and other complications caused by this excess skin add up to a pretty obvious medical problem. But health plans have a financial incentive to see it as a cosmetic problem rather than a medical one.

The Effect of Body Contouring on BMIA new outcomes study evaluated the results for bariatric surgery patients who also had surgery to remove excess skin. Compared to a similar group that did not have the follow-up procedure, they found significantly better outcomes (p<0.004). At the outset, and in the first year, the BMI of the two groups was similar. But after 2.5 years, the people who had excess skin removed maintained a lower BMI.

It’s worth noting that this study is retrospective. So it’s not a prospective randomized design. Selection bias might contribute to the differences. Still, the difference in outcomes is impressive.

Perhaps this data can persuade a few more health plans to improve their coverage for follow-up after bariatric surgery. For reconstructive surgery after mastectomy, it took an act of Congress before health plans would pay.

Click here to read the abstract and here to read more from ScienceDaily. Click here to read an excellent blog series from the Obesity Action Coalition by Tammy Farrell.

Skin Texture, photograph © Matt Reinbold / flickr

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