Medics back new guidelines on ‘contouring’ surgery for weight-loss patients

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Plastic surgeons are calling for new guidance on the treatment of patients after they have undergone weight-loss surgery.

The British Association for Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (Bapras) is calling for national guidelines to be drawn up on reconstructive “body contouring” surgery following weight-loss operations, when patients can often be left with excess skin.

The association’s winter meeting of more than 400 plastic surgeons in London will hear that with a growing obesity epidemic in the UK, the number of patients undergoing bariatric surgery was increasing rapidly.

On average, gastric band patients will lose between 50 and 60 per cent of their excess weight and gastric bypass patients will lose 70 per cent. Many will develop medical problems caused by excess skin left over once the weight has gone.

These problems can be dealt with by body contouring surgery, but there are currently no guidelines on the provision for this type of surgery and NHS funding is very limited. A pilot study being presented at the meeting today by Mark Soldin, Bapras consultant plastic surgeon at Kingston and St Georges University Teaching Hospitals in London, showed significant improvements in patients’ well-being once they had undergone body contouring surgery.

Mr Soldin said: “We know that excess skin following massive weight loss can lead to significant on-going problems. Initial findings from our research shows that there are significant physical and emotional benefits to patients who undergo body contouring surgery.”