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American Society of Plastic Surgeons Reports Cost Remain Barrier to Body Contouring for Weight Loss Surgery Patients

According to a study in the June issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, high costs of body contouring surgery keeps patients from perusing the procedure. The surgery is done to remove excess skin folds on the body after excessive weight loss occurs.

The study was conducted by Dr. Raed Hawa, psychiatrist, and University of Toronto colleagues. They found that recent evidence suggests that body contouring surgery, commonly referred to as cosmetic surgery, has both physical health and mental benefits to patients.

The study looked at 58 patients with an average age of 46 years old who had weight loss surgery procedures to treat severe obesity. About two years following their surgical procedure, these patients had lost nearly 40% of their previous body weights. More than 90% of these patients developed skin folds after their procedure. The study found that only ten of these patients elected to have body contouring surgery or just 17% of those studied.

The body contouring surgery usually includes a tummy tuck or abdominoplasty as well as other cosmetic surgery procedures that remove skin or tissue from the upper arms or breasts. The study’s researchers found that 95% of those who didn’t have the body contouring surgery wanted to however 88% of those patients thought high costs would keep them from having it. Another 10% wanted to lose more weight before they pursue the procedure.

While cost was a major barrier between those who chose to have the surgery and those who did not, the patients in the study all had similar incomes, employment rate and other socioeconomic factors. The youngest patients were more likely to have body contouring.

As for mental health benefits and body contouring surgery, those who had BCS were less liable to have depression or anxiety post op. They also rated their physical life more favorable. The study’s researchers believe that bariatric surgery helps to reduce obesity-related health risk and leads to improvements in the psychological status of patients as well as their quality life. While bariatric surgery is often covered by insurance, body contouring surgery is still regarded as a cosmetic surgery procedure and isn’t usually included.

Hawa and the other researchers call for more research on the long-term psychology and physical adjustments in bariatric surgery patient who have body contouring surgery.