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Do You Have Excess Skin from Weight Loss? Donate It

By HERWriter
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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).

And read this Smart Beauty Guide from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic surgery:

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

Add a Comment30 Comments

EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to momatrina81)

Your doctor can refer you for skin removal because it is negatively affecting your health. I'm in UK so don't know about insurance or costs in USA but I've seen YouTube girl showing her progress and she detailed her problems with excess skin to support her surgeons decision it was best for her health to remove it. Hope this helps.

September 2, 2016 - 4:37am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to momatrina81)

I'm with her 340/130 to much can u plzs help me onate.

February 19, 2016 - 7:40am
HERWriter (reply to momatrina81)

Hi Katrina,  Good job on your weight loss.  If you read through the comments you will see that I suggest for other readers to contact doctors who are close to you one by one and ask them for help.  You can also try hospitals near you.  I would write a short letter and email any medical source you think may be worth contacting.  

You can also contact: Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation

125 May Street 
Edison, NJ 08837
Fax: 732-661-2298

To see if they have any suggestions.
Good luck,
February 2, 2016 - 5:51am
EmpowHER Guest

I live down in the panhandle area of Florida. Panama City Beach area. I had bypass surgery about 20 yrs ago, and lost 100 lbs and have heat it off. I have lots of loose skin on tummy, thighs, arms, etc... I actually have extra skin everywhere!!! I am disabled and can't afford to have it removed and I'm sure Medicare wouldn't pay for it, is there any place for me to donate the skin and are there any programs to help me pay the expenses of the surgery out there??

December 28, 2015 - 8:50pm
EmpowHER Guest

Successful gastric bypass surgery left me with a lot of loose, hanging skin. My surgeon recommended an upper body lift and an arm lift - and I didnt want to get surgery again! I want to be healthy and skinny. I started using the Somlauxe Firming Lotion and I am very pleased with the results. The Somaluxe Firming Lotion is definitely an alternative to more surgery. Just use it for 1-2 months and your arms will get firm like mine! I can now wear short sleeves with confidence!

December 15, 2015 - 7:44pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Thxs this skin is bad my thighs are crazy skinskin skin can't where short at all

February 19, 2016 - 7:46am
HERWriter (reply to Anonymous)

I caution anyone who uses this skin product mentioned above that it may do nothing. Amazon sells it for $25 and I suspect the positive reviews are fake. Buyer beware.

December 16, 2015 - 5:51am
EmpowHER Guest

Hello I'm Kiki,
Over the last two year I have lost 147lbs and I have a ton of extra skin. I was told that ULCA removed the skin for free if you donate it, and I would love to donate my skin. It's just I live in Arizona and I'm not 100% sure how accurate that information is. I still very much want to donate my skin and I wanna do it while I'm still young, which I'm 25 now. Like others I'm low on funds, so could you please show me the direction on where I could find the solution to my problem.
Thank you.

October 5, 2015 - 1:32am
EmpowHER Guest

Hello my name is condoa. I was wondering if I can do this. Two years ago I had a surgery to lose weight. How ever the weight went away but I have so much access fat hanging off of me. To the point that it's embarrassing to go to water parks wearing a bath suit. I'm 28 years old and I'm from Brooklyn ny. Can you help me olease

August 31, 2015 - 10:27am
EmpowHER Guest

Hi i live in brisbane australia and i have ALOT of lose skin from me being 200kgs plus and now down to 117kgs so yeah can only emagine how much lose skin i have im on a pension and money is really tight but i would be very happy to donate my skin to the burns unit here so if you could point me in the right place i would be more then happy to donate my skin thank you mellissa

August 31, 2015 - 4:24am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.