A new study finds that the majority of post-bariatric surgery patients are not informed of the multitude of body contouring procedures available to them, even though such a procedure could benefit their health, comfort, and quality of life.
The study also found that many of these patients would consider undergoing a body contouring procedure if made aware of their options and that many of the patients who showed an interest in pursuing body contouring procedures felt they would be unable to afford them.
In post-bariatric surgery patients, body contouring plastic surgery “isn’t just aesthetic surgery, ” says Jason Spector, MD, American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) Member Surgeon and study lead author, “It is necessary surgery that rehabilitates patients, alleviates discomfort, and improves overall quality of life.”
He further explains that “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.”
The study, “Body Contouring Following Bariatric Surgery: How Much is Being Done,” is the largest known study to examine the awareness and incidence of body contouring in the bariatric surgery population. The study results were presented at the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) annual conference in Denver last month
For the study, researchers surveyed patients who underwent bariatric surgery from two bariatric surgeons at a metropolitan tertiary care center between 2003 and 2011. Among the patients who responded, 76.8% were female, mean age was 47 years, 54.7% had completed a college education, over one-third had annual household income less than $50,000, 44.9% were minorities, and 97.5% of bariatric procedures were covered by insurance.
The surveyed patients reported the following information regarding body contouring surgery:
- 25.4% had discussed body contouring surgery with their bariatric surgeon, either preoperatively or postoperatively; of these patients, 84.3% found the time spent discussing such options sufficient
- 14.4% were referred by their bariatric surgeon for consultation with a plastic surgeon; of these patients, 84.6% actually saw a plastic surgeon
- 11.6% underwent 54 body contouring procedures including 22 abdominoplasties/panniculectomies, 11 mastopexies/breast reductions, and 9 belt lipectomies
- 28.6% did not undergo body contouring surgery because of the expense
- 23.2% did not undergo body contouring surgery due to lack of awareness regarding surgical options
- 35.5% were not given information regarding body contouring surgery, but they would consider inquiring about it in the future
- 39.1% might have chosen to undergo body contouring surgery had they received more information beforehand
According to researchers, the study highlights the need for patient and surgeon education regarding body contouring options for bariatric surgery patients. In addition, the lead author, Dr. Spector, believes “there needs to be a push to have body contouring after massive weight loss covered by insurance” as many patients feel they are unable to afford body contouring surgery.
Each year, approximately 220,000 bariatric surgeries are performed each year. According to American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) Statistics, there were only about 53,000 body contouring procedures after massive weight loss last year. The ASPS is the largest organization of board-certified plastic surgeons in the world and is recognized as a leading authority and information source on cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery.
Source: ASPS Press Release “Post-Bariatric Patients Denied Access to Body Contouring Procedures” on 9/21/2011