Bariatric surgery often results in numerous health benefits, such as resolution or improvement of type 2 diabetes, hypertension, joint pain, and depression. However, the extreme and rapid weight loss after bariatric surgery may also lead to physical and emotional distress resulting from redundant, loose skin. These new skin folds require meticulous care; even so patients may suffer painful rashes and skin infections. The weight of the pendulous skin can prohibit exercise and normal daily activities. Excess skin on the upper arms, thighs, and abdomen can make it difficult to find proper fitting clothes. Patients may feel self-conscious of their atypical body contours and find the hanging skin a deterrent from their commitment to dietary changes, exercise, and continued weight loss maintenance.
“Post bariatric body contouring” is the term used for the multiple surgical procedures typically required to remove excess skin and reshape the contours of the breasts, abdomen, arms, and lower body. These procedures include the breast lift, tummy tuck, lower body and medial thigh lifts, and arm lift. Despite the medical and psychological indications for these procedures, they are largely uncovered by insurance companies. A recent study showed that after bariatric surgery, 75 percent of women and 68 percent of men were interested in plastic surgery, yet less than 6% of patients underwent any plastic surgery procedure. The failure of insurance companies to cover these medically indicated procedures results in patients either paying out of pocket or suffering the negative health and psychological consequences of the excess skin.