Weight-loss surgery works miracles for many patients and can resolve life-threatening health issues, such as diabetes and sleep apnea. However, side effects of the procedure, such as sagging excess skin, keeps some from leading normal lives.

Stretched-out skin doesn’t always spring back, forcing bariatric patients to undergo plastic surgery procedures, including facelifts, thigh-lifts, tummy tucks, and full-body lifts, to tailor baggy skin to fit newly trim frames.

“I have some patients who have pain because they have so much extra skin. It folds over on itself and pinches all the time,” says David Wainwright, MD, associate professor in the Division of Plastic Surgery at the University of Texas Medical School, Houston. “They’ve lost all this weight, but they can’t enjoy it because they have this other problem—either rashes or all this skin moving with a mind of its own. Exercise is difficult for both of those reasons. It’s not where they were hoping to be.”

According to physicians, many patients do not realize that as they get older, their skin loses its elasticity. Patients typically reach their weight-loss goals 2 years after the surgery.

Physicians recommend that plastic surgeons speak to their patients about the side effects of weight reduction surgery because it is important that they understand that gastric bypass may not be the last procedure they will need to have to reach their desired weight and look.

[www.chron.com, January 4, 2007]