Post-bariatric contour deformity correction: an endeavour to establish objective criteria nationally

Swiss Med Wkly. 2022 Mar 10:152:w30131. doi: 10.4414/smw.2022.w30131. eCollection 2022 Feb 28.


Background: A marked increase in bariatric surgery has led to higher numbers of patients with contour deformities after massive weight loss seeking plastic surgical correction. Insurance coverage for these post-bariatric interventions is highly subjective and a common set of objective criteria has not yet been established.

Aim: The aim was to evaluate the factors influencing insurance coverage for post-bariatric surgery, focusing on finding objective, reproducible criteria.

Methods: This was a retrospective single centre chart review of all post-bariatric patients with redundant skin requesting body contouring surgery from 2013 to 2018. Demographic, bariatric and surgical, as well as insurance information were collected. A logistic regression model was used to identify predictors of successful insurance coverage.

Results: 116 Patients were included in the study. Insurance approval for post-bariatric body contouring surgery was obtained for only 47 patients (41%). Mentioning the term "medical indication" in the application letter was associated with a 15.2 times higher rate of receiving a positive answer (p <0.001), whereas mentioning "mental suffering" was associated with 82.3% lower chance of getting a positive response (p <0.001). A high body mass index (BMI) (p <0.009) before the bariatric operation as well as a high BMI reduction (p <0.021) were associated with a higher approval rate by insurance companies . An additional application letter to the insurance company (p <0.024) as well as mentioning mechanical restriction (p <0.022) were associated with a positive response from the insurance companies.

Conclusions: We were able to establish certain objective predictive criteria for insurance coverage of post-bariatric surgery. However, it appears that the decisions of insurance companies for this condition are still rather randomly taken. Therefore, the establishment of objective criteria for insurance coverage may allow fairer treatment for this growing patient population.

MeSH terms

  • Bariatric Surgery*
  • Humans
  • Insurance Coverage
  • Obesity, Morbid* / surgery
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Weight Loss