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Plastic Surgeons Tout Study on Body Contouring After Bariatric Surgery

Physicians from Michigan's Partners in Plastic Surgery agree with recent findings that show cost concerns keep patients from the benefits of cosmetic surgery.

Grand Rapids, Michigan (March 2015) — A pair of specialists at Partners in Plastic Surgery (www.pipsmd.com) say a recent study showing cost is the primary obstacle preventing patients from undergoing cosmetic surgery after weight loss is significant for a number of reasons. The Michigan plastic surgery experts say there are many patients, medical practitioners, and even insurance carriers who can learn from the research.

"Earlier research shows patients who have a lot of excess skin after a bariatric procedure are much better off if they can have that skin removed. They are more likely to maintain a healthy weight and less inclined to suffer from depression and anxiety," Dr. Dennis Hammond says. "But because plastic surgery in the majority of these cases is considered cosmetic by insurance companies, patients have to foot the bill themselves."

Dr. Hammond is a board-certified plastic surgeon who specializes in body contouring surgery after significant weight loss at his Grand Rapids practice. He and Dr. Andrea Van Pelt, who is also a board-certified plastic surgeon, perform a range of operations that remove excess skin and contour the body.

The study, published in the June issue of the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery®, confirmed that "cost remains a major barrier to accessing body-contouring surgery" for patients who have undergone bariatric surgery.

The Grand Rapids plastic surgeons also point out that the study includes evidence that patients who get body contouring surgery report less anxiety and depression compared to bariatric surgery patients who don't later get body contouring. Additionally, Dr. Hammond says, an earlier study in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery regarding gastric bypass concluded that patients who underwent body contouring later were more successful with long-term weight control, with lasting physical health benefits.

The study's authors say, "Therefore, body contouring must be considered as a reconstructive operation in the treatment of morbid obesity."

That distinction is critical, Dr. Van Pelt says, especially considering the more recent conclusions that cost prevents many patients from getting body contouring surgery. Unlike cosmetic surgery, reconstructive plastic surgery is often covered by a patient's insurance provider.

"I think looked at together, along with other research, this is strong evidence that insurers should recognize body contouring surgery after significant weight loss as the final surgical phase in a staged medical procedure," Dr. Van Pelt says. "Bariatric surgery is medically necessary for these patients, but it's only part of the personal transformation. Unfortunately, the expense of the multiple body contouring procedures that many of these patients need prevents them from completing that transformation."

If you've lost a significant amount of weight and are considering body contouring surgery, request a consultation online to meet with one of our surgeons, or call our office at (616) 464-4420 to schedule an appointment.

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