This article has been updated as of May 24, 2016.
It seems sort of a waste to not do something with that excess skin from your waist if you want to have surgery to remove it. In 2007, Dr. Beverly Shafer must have thought the same thing when she asked her patient Nina Esile if she would be willing to donate the excess skin from her tummy tuck.
MTF used to have a program that accepted donated skin after weight loss surgery but that program was discontinued in 2011. MTF still accepts skin donations from deceased donors which is used for burn victims as well as breast and abdominal reconstruction. To find out more about this type of donation visit their site at www.mtf.org.
Unfortunately, finding a place to donate your skin after weight reduction is a lot more difficult than one would think and this is why.
According to University of Michigan, the problems with using live skin donation are numerous.
The amount of usable skin from live donation is limited and requires having numerous health professionals participate in removing the skin, as well as time in an operating room.
Cadaver donations provide much more skin from a single person and only trained tissue technicians are needed to remove it.
The University states that cadaver skin can be used immediately after removal, while the FDA requires live donations to be quarantined for six months, then retested for HIV and hepatitis. That means increased storage and testing costs.
A number of posters have asked EmpowHer about how to donate their excess skin after having had massive weight loss. Many of these people are financially unable to pay for the surgery to have it removed, so they were hoping to donate their excess skin to help defray the cost.
Health insurance does not pay for excess skin removal unless there is a medical reason for its removal.
Currently, your best options are below:
1) Educate yourself about what having your skin removal will and won’t accomplish.
You need realistic expectations. The surgery is optimally performed 12 to 18 months after gastric bypass surgery or gastric banding. Your weight loss level needs to be stable for three to six months after the weight loss, before having the skin reduction surgery.
That means you can start researching how to accomplish the skin removal surgery as soon as you make the decision to reduce your weight.
Read this booklet by the United Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC).
2) Explore ways to pay for the surgery
- Loans: Discuss with a plastic surgeon about companies that provide loans for cosmetic procedures. One such company suggested by Real Self is Care Credit. They also mention CosmetiCredit, MedLoanFinance, and SurgeryLoans.com.
There are others listed in this link but make sure you fully understand what you are responsible for to pay them back. Be sure to check that the company is reputable.
- Employer Health Savings Accounts: These are plans where you put in pre-tax dollars to provide medical needed funds so that your money goes farther for medical expenses. Discuss with your employer about starting one if they don’t already have one.
- GoFundMe: This young man, Matt Diaz, managed to raise money to have his skin removal surgery through GoFundMe.
3) Find the right surgeon: Search for a board certified plastic surgeon who is skilled at performing skin reduction surgery.
Contact their offices by phone to ask about costs, and whether the doctor would allow payment on time, or would reduce their cost for people without sufficient funds.
4) Cadaver donation: Though this will not solve your excess skin problem in life, you can help others once you have passed. Cadaver skin is donated through a skin bank. Contact a burn center close to you to ask about where you can donate your skin upon death or the MTF.
Let us know how things went for you, and share your experiences with others here on EmpowHer.
SKIN DONATION FAQ. University of Michigan Trauma Burn Center. Retrieved May 24, 2016.
￼UPMC Life After Weight Loss Program Patient Guide. UPMC. Retrieved May 24, 2016.
Smart Beauty Guide by the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. Retrieved May 24, 2016.
The RealSelf Guide to Plastic Surgery Financing — Your Top 6 Questions Answered. Real Self.com. Retrieved May 24, 2016.
Finding hope in donations of 'excess' skin. Boston.com. Retrieved originally in 2010.
Michele is an R.N. freelance writer with a special interest in woman’s healthcare and quality of care issues. Other articles by Michele can be read at http://www.helium.com/users/487540/show_articles