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Health Experts Offer Solution For Excess Skin After Weight Loss

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(credit: CBS) Natalie Nyhus
Natalie Nyhus joined the WCCO-TV team in January of 2011. She repor...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Last year more than 220,000 people had surgery to help them lose weight.

That’s according to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. But for some of these patients, dropping the excess fat was only half the battle.

One side effect for having surgery to lose a lot of weight: Excess skin. Now some doctors are offering a solution.

When Sarah Beth Daken was in her 20s, she started to gain weight. By the time she was in her 30s, she weighed more than 300 pounds. Frustrated and worried about her health, she had lap band surgery in 2008.

“One of the pitfalls of having that much weight is that when you lose it, you have all this excess skin,” Daken said.

Daken chose to have plastic surgery known as body contouring. It’s a procedure where doctors remove excess skin, sometimes up  to 20 pounds of it, from people who have lost a lot of body fat.

“We’ve had very good techniques over the years in really hiding these scars in areas underneath underwater, or bathing suit lines or bra lines,” said Dr. Joseph Michaels with Monarch Aesthetic and Reconstructive Plastic Surgery.

Although surgery can help with most areas of the body, Michaels said the stomach and upper arms seem to be the main concern.

“Another common area is the breasts, as well as the buttock and back region,” Michaels said.

As with all surgeries, there are risks. It can take weeks to heal, and if a patient has other complications like diabetes or heart disease, they may not qualify to have the surgery. The procedure is not covered by insurance, but many patients who have transformed themselves due to weight loss don’t think they’re complete until their bodies reflect the way they feel.

So to some, like Daken, the expense is worth it.

Body contouring is considered elective surgery, and prices vary widely. Cost depends on things like the surgeon’s experience and area of procedure.

WCCO-TV called around to several clinics offering body contouring in the Twin Cities, and each procedure was in the thousands. For a stomach contouring, the average price was $7,000. Many plastic surgeons did offer patient financing plans.

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