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Excess Skin after Bariatric Surgery

>> Thursday, May 2, 2013

On this second day of the Canadian Obesity Summit, I had the honor of being asked to act as a judge for a number of excellent research presentations during today's poster session.  First, a heartfelt congratulations to all of the presenters - I was truly impressed by all of your efforts and studies, and I enjoyed each of our stimulating conversations!

A study that really struck a chord with me, and which I feel is really important to share, was a study looking at the impact of excess skin on physical activity in women who have had bariatric surgery.  The reason for doing this study is that over 70% of patients who have bariatric (obesity) surgery are left with excess skin that interferes with physical and social functioning. The research, conducted by A Baillot and colleagues at the University of Sherbrooke in Quebec, administered questionnaires to 26 women who had had bariatric (obesity) surgery at least 2 years prior, asking women about how their excess skin impacted them physically, psychologically, and socially.

They found that 77% of patients reported that their excess skin was making mobility during physical activity difficult, and that almost half were avoiding physical activity because of their excess skin.  What really hurt my heart was that when these women were asked why the excess skin caused them to avoid physical activity, the most common reason cited was that they were concerned about people staring at them (other reasons were hygiene concerns, weightiness of the excess skin, and a feeling of 'sloshing' of the skin).

My take home message from this study is that the likely development of excess skin after obesity surgery is something that needs to be discussed in detail with patients prior to having surgery, such that they are prepared for the physical, psychological, and social challenges that they may perceive or encounter.

And, as always, it is my hope that with education of our society, that any obesity related stigma that may exist out there will continue to decrease until it disappears entirely.  I've been asked a lot this week as to why I blog - this reason would be amongst the highest.

Dr Sue Pedersen © 2013 

Follow me on Twitter for daily tips! @drsuepedersen


Dr Fortin May 2, 2013 at 5:10 PM  

Hi Sue, that is for sure, many people don't expect it and find it just as distressing as their condition was before or are expecting the corrective surgery to be included in their treatment and it often isn't... your friendly neighbourhood plastic surgeon.

Dr. Sue Pedersen May 3, 2013 at 7:30 AM  

Thank you so much for the insight, Amanda! Hope to see you soon, would love to discuss further.

Anonymous October 20, 2016 at 2:02 PM  

So do you not think that this corrective surgery should be included on a procedure like this? I believe the patient should return for an assessment after the procedure done to see if they meet the requirements to have excessive skin removal. The patient get help with one health problem, just to create another.. Doesn't seem fair.

Dr. Sue Pedersen October 20, 2016 at 2:09 PM  

I agree with you - greater accessibility and funding for body contouring surgery after bariatric surgery is desperately needed.
Dr Sue


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