Bariatric surgery patients commonly undergo plastic surgery, or body contouring, to remove excess skin and help reshape the body after they have lost a significant amount of weight. Advancements in medical technology have allowed doctors to use tissue from living donors in procedures such as breast reconstruction or abdominal wall repair following hernias. If you have undergone bariatric surgery and are planning on having any type of body contouring procedure, making the decision to donate your excess skin can go a long way to improving someone else’s quality of life.
Talk to your doctor about your interest in donating your skin. Your surgeon will be able to provide you with additional information about skin donation and help you decide if it is the right choice for you.
Wait until you have maintained a stable weight for 12 to 18 months before undergoing body contouring surgery and having skin removed. Most patients who donate skin have lost 100 pounds or more. Having plastic surgery before your weight has stabilized may result in the need for additional surgery as your body continues to change.
Contact the Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation to see if you are eligible to become a skin donor. Fill out the contact form on the MTF website, indicating your surgeon’s name and telephone number, and the expected date of your body contouring procedure. MTF will contact you to obtain more information and schedule a medical assessment.
Be prepared to answer a series of questions regarding your medical history. The questions MTF asks are similar to those you have to answer when donating blood. U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines prohibit tissue donation from individuals with certain “relevant communicable disease agents or diseases,” such as HIV, hepatitis and certain STDs.
The National Organ Transplant Act prohibits the buying and selling of organs and tissues. You will not be paid for your extra skin or reimbursed for your surgery, but donating your skin costs you nothing extra.