Obesity Linked to Increased Healthcare Costs after Cosmetic Surgery – ASPS Says

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The importance of patient education regarding cosmetic surgery and who qualifies as a candidate cannot be understated. Usually, experienced plastic surgeons enjoying a good reputation provide advice to their patients in this regard during the initial consultation. Cosmetic surgery is not a weight loss solution. It is recommended for men and women who are near their ideal weight and not obese. This will ensure that everything goes fine, both results and recovery. For almost all aesthetic procedures, surgeons would advise people to be healthy with no serious medical conditions.

A new study highlights some significant information linking obesity and increased healthcare costs after surgery, which substantiates this surgeon advice. The study published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) revealed that obese patients have more complications after common plastic surgery procedures. So they make more hospital visits which leads to higher healthcare costs. The report says, “Overweight and obese patients remained 35 percent more likely to have an emergency department visit or hospital admission within 30 days of surgery.”

The researchers used ambulatory surgery databases from four states to identify nearly 48,000 adult patients taking up common cosmetic plastic surgery procedures. The procedures include liposuction, abdominoplasty, breast reduction, and blepharoplasty. By checking out the body mass index, four percent of the patients were classified as obese. They had higher rates of other types of “co-morbid” medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and mental health problems.

Here are the interesting findings of the study.

  • About 7.3 percent of obese patients made an emergency department visit or were admitted to the hospital within 30 days after surgery. Similar cases were reported for only 3.9 percent of non-obese patients.
  • Relative risk was calculated as 35 percent higher for obese patients.
  • The higher risk of serious adverse events within 30 days after plastic surgery was also linked to obesity. Relative risk was 72 percent higher.
  • The number of hospital visits was highest for obese patients undergoing tummy tuck who had three or more co-morbid conditions.

These findings imply the importance of informing the patients regarding various risks associated with plastic surgery. Plastic surgeons must advise their obese patients regarding the complications likely if they choose to undergo surgery, and also regarding the need to address the co-morbid conditions. For instance, diabetic patients can carefully control their blood glucose levels and thereby reduce the risk of complications.

Patients, on their part must realize that their higher body weight is very likely to bring higher costs of care. What is significant is that insurers usually do not cover complications connected with elective cosmetic procedures, and as a result the patient will have to meet any additional costs.