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Weight Loss Surgery: Long-Term Results

Bariatric surgery can help you get past those cravings, get healthier, and be more active.

Time for Skin Reduction After Weight Loss Surgery?

With extreme weight loss, loose skin can be a big problem. Up to 70% of patients have skin reduction surgery (also called body contouring, or panniculectomy when referring to the tummy), says Courcoulas.

With gastric bypass, skin reduction surgery is usually done two years after surgery, she says. With gastric banding, body contouring is usually done three years postsurgery. Insurance typically covers the procedures if they are considered medically necessary, she explains. "That's if loose skin causes hygiene problems, pain, sexual function problems. If the surgery is considered cosmetic, it won't be covered."

It's nothing you can check before having weight loss surgery, she adds, as insurance companies must see after-surgery photographs to make their decision.

In medical centers that do significant numbers of bariatric surgeries, the plastic surgeons are often adept at getting insurance approval, Courcoulas adds. "They are very expert at packaging services. If a bariatric patient needs a hernia repair, for example, they package it with skin removal. We work really hard to service the needs of patients because we know it's tight with insurance."

For many patients, however, plastic surgery isn't really necessary, she says. "The patient who loses 80 to 100 pounds -- if they were shaped well before surgery, are young, their skin is elastic, they exercise -- they may not need it. But someone who loses more weight -- if they are older -- they will need it. It depends on age, size, skin elasticity, and how much tolerance they have for a little loose skin."

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Reviewed on February 12, 2009

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