How Important is Excess Skin Removal After Bariatric Surgery?

Bariatric surgery is any type of surgery done on the stomach to help with weight loss. It can also include surgery on the intestine. Bariatric refers to all of these surgeries as a group. One well-known example is gastric bypass surgery. But it’s just one of many options.

How Does Bariatric Surgery Relate to Plastic Surgery?

But why are we talking about bariatric surgery? Because there’s another aspect that isn’t always talked about: excess skin. When someone loses a lot of weight, the skin often cannot adapt. This means that after the weight is gone, a lot of hanging skin still remains. Plastic surgeons are often involved in the process of removing the excess skin. For many, it is seen as the final stage of the bariatric surgery.

Why is Excess Skin Removal Important?

Some may think the extra skin is a minor problem. When compared to all of the health issues that come with being obese, it seems small. That’s true. But it’s not the whole story. We have to look at the big picture. If someone has bariatric surgery in order to lose weight, it’s very important to keep that weight off. And now research is showing that getting rid of the skin can assist in keeping the weight off long term. That skin can cause problems on its own. And it can also be a barrier to keeping the weight off. Not only does removing the extra skin help patients keep the weight off, it can also help with their quality of life. With less excess skin to contend with, they can have fewer restrictions. They can also feel more comfortable in a wider variety of clothing. Removing excess skin can make it easier to exercise. This alone can help with keeping the weight off.

Excess Skin Removal After Bariatric Surgery

The reason this is a hot topic today is because there was a recent study that shows the link between excess skin removal and the maintenance of the weight loss. Here are some of the study details and results they highlighted:

  • They followed over 90 bariatric surgery patients. Roughly half of them had body contouring to remove the extra skin.
  • Both those who did and who did not have the body contouring lost weight. But those who had the body contouring were more likely to have kept the weight off after more than 2 years.
  • This is an issue of extreme importance because of the mortality issues associated with obesity. Many patients who have bariatric surgery end up regaining the weight. Any measure to reduce the incidence of weight coming back is positive.

Even Better: It’s Often Covered by Insurance Many cosmetic procedures are not covered by health insurance. But body contouring is often an exception. There are several reasons why:

  • It can help with weight loss and keeping the weight off. This makes the initial surgery more successful.
  • Excess skin can actually cause limitations in daily life, making its removal a functional issue, not an aesthetic issue. For example, it can cause rashes. These can lead to infections. The pain can also make some movements more difficult.
  • It is often deemed to be reconstructive rather than cosmetic.



Dr. Michael J. Brown is a board-certified plastic surgeon who offers innovative aesthetic procedures for the face, breast, and body.


The Loudoun Center for Plastic Surgery 

45155 Research Pl
Ste 125
Ashburn, VA 20147

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