Only 15 Percent Of Bariatric Patients Follow-Up With Plastic Surgery

Armen Hareyan's picture

Bariatric Surgery

Bariatric surgery to treat morbid obesity is poised to become the most prevalent major surgery in the United States.

However, while most bariatric patients consider plastic surgery to re-contour their bodies after losing weight, less than 15 percent of patients will actually have it, according to a Safety and Efficacy Report in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery(R), the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).

"Bariatric surgery is a useful tool for treating obesity and many patients benefit from completing their weight loss journey with plastic surgery every year. However, the data shows that more patients could be helped by these procedures," said Alan Matarasso, MD, ASPS Member Surgeon and lead author. "Major obstacles to surgery for patients include cost, difficulty in receiving insurance coverage and reluctance to have additional surgery."


After massive weight loss many patients develop large amounts of loose, sagging skin. Left untreated, the excessive skin can be physically restrictive, lead to chronic infections, and cause psycho-social health related issues.

"This is serious surgery that may involve multiple procedures performed over many months, significant recovery time and a financial commitment; however, the benefits are incredibly positive," said Peter Rubin, MD, chair, ASPS Post Bariatric Task Force. "Removing excess skin is not only necessary to achieve optimal body shape, but it's also helpful in improving overall health and quality-of-life. Because of these benefits and the rising number of bariatric procedures being preformed, we expect to see a continued increase in the number of patients who have these procedures."

Body contouring procedures which include extended tummy tucks, lower body lifts, arm lifts, thigh lifts, and breast lifts are commonly used to remove the excess skin. In fact, nearly 66,000 body contouring procedures after massive weight loss were performed last year, up 18 percent since 2004, according to ASPS statistics.

The report details the following helpful tips for those considering body contouring after massive weight loss:

-- Maintain a stable weight for three consecutive months. If you are still losing weight it can negatively impact your healing and recovery.

-- Be as close to your goal weight as possible.