Physical discomfort due to redundant skin in post-bariatric surgery patients

J Plast Reconstr Aesthet Surg. 2013 Jul;66(7):950-5. doi: 10.1016/j.bjps.2013.03.016. Epub 2013 Apr 9.


Massive weight loss after bariatric surgery leads to excess skin with functional and aesthetic impairments. The aim of this study was to evaluate the prevalence of excess skin after bariatric surgery and identify any relationship with pre- and postoperative characteristics. A total of 360 patients who had undergone bariatric surgery procedures were asked to complete a questionnaire designed by the surgical team at least 1 year after surgery. This questionnaire was planned to estimate any impairment due to redundant skin, which was graded according to a visual analogue scale (VAS, 0--0). Mean (standard deviation, SD) age of 110 males and 250 females was 51.2 (10.8) years. Mean preoperative body mass index (BMI) was 45.7 (6.4) kg m(-2) and mean postoperative BMI at follow-up was 33.6 (6.0) kg m(-2). After a mean follow-up of 56.1 (43.6) months, the mean weight loss was 35.2 (18.8) kg. Most patients (92.8%) reported problems with redundant skin, especially on the abdomen, upper arms and rear/buttocks, which impaired daily physical activity in half of them. Excess skin was associated with female gender (β=-13.56, 95% confidence interval (CI) -16.81 to -10.32, p<0.0001), weight loss (β=0.21, 95% CI 0.12-0.29, p<0.0001) and ΔBMI (β=0.21, 95% CI 0.12-0.29, p<0.0001) at multivariate analysis. Patients with a ΔBMI>20 kg m(-2) showed a significantly surplus skin discomfort compared to ΔBMI≤5 and 5<ΔBMI≤10 (p<0.001). Patients with a weight loss>50 kg showed a significantly redundant skin discomfort compared to weight loss<20 kg (p<0.001). Weight loss after bariatric surgery reduces the medical risks of obesity but psychosocial and functional problems often remain due to the surplus skin. Our data suggest that a ΔBMI≤10 kg m(-2) and weight loss>20 kg, not BMI alone, might be taken into consideration as cut-off values for developing score systems with the intention to apply evidence-based indications for the surgical management of post-bariatric impairments.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Bariatric Surgery / adverse effects
  • Bariatric Surgery / methods*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dermatologic Surgical Procedures / methods*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity, Morbid / diagnosis
  • Obesity, Morbid / surgery*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Weight Loss*