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
my name is Joshua Dear and I used to weight 402 pounds but I have lost almost 170 pounds. I am looking for a way to get rid of my access skin and then seen your website and like what I see. I have plenty access skin on my tummy and legs and would like to donate if possible. I am a inspired personal trainer and this surgery would help me start my life over and move forward. Thank you for your time.June 17, 2015 - 3:13am
I have a friend burned over 75% of his body. Young, has his first child due this coming May. I want to help, but I am on disability so money isn't an option for me.
I am not over-weight, but would gladly donate skin to help if that is an option? He is hospitalized in Memphis, TN.
Can you point me in a direction for answers?
[email protected] or Donna Jean on Facebook .
Thank you for your time and consideration of my request and God bless all.April 22, 2015 - 4:03pm
I am 55 yr old woman,since i was 13 yrs old i had big breasts..38ddd is my size,I'm 5"1 hight,my breasts had always been an inconvenience to me,also had brought me a lot of grief,my posture is damage,i have deep indentations in my shoulders area,plus don't have any upper body strenght from the weight,have terrible back pain.My breasts have never been of use to me, as a woman was never able to breast feed my three kids,never where of sexual use,clothes never fit right and thru all my life was bullied because of them.My health insurance will not pay for surgery and i was suggested by a friend to look into donation,I've been depressed about this all my life,i don't care if i end up with nasty scars,i'm not the type to show off my body,i just want to take this weight off of my upper body,so i can help my body feel better and maybe not have anymore pain in my neck,back and be able to take off my bra at night to sleep.Many times i thought about mutilating them and have wish to have breast cancer so i could rid of them. Please,i'm not doing this to be shallow,i just can't afford any expenses because I live from social security disability and on a fix income .and have a lot of health issues,this will be a big relief for my health and body.April 1, 2015 - 12:44pm
Thank you for taking the time to read my story and hopefully you will be of help to me
I am so sorry that you have had these difficulties. What I suggest you do, I suggested this to another reader, is to make a list of doctors who are a drivable distance to you. Write a letter explaining why you want breast reduction surgery but that you cannot afford it. Ask that doctor if they could offer you help at a very reduced fee or if they have any suggestions of where else you can ask. Put your email address/phone number on the letter so it is easy for them to respond back to you. Perhaps one of those places can help you.
MicheleApril 1, 2015 - 1:23pm
I would contact this group directly and ask.
Musculoskeletal Transplant FoundationNovember 13, 2014 - 11:06am
125 May Street
Edison, NJ 08837
Hi Michele,January 21, 2016 - 3:11pm
The Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation no longer has a "skin donation after weight loss" program. The program ended several years ago. We do not know of any other such program in the U.S., so we don't have another organization to refer people to. Unfortunately, we still get many calls every week as a result of your article. We would appreciate it if you could help us spread the word that this program is no longer active. Thank you! MTF
Can anyone tell me where I can donate my skin to burn victimsNovember 13, 2014 - 8:11am
I am sorry the old links do not work but those are the links I used to write the article. If you go to the main site, www.mtf.org you can look around.
This is a link to their Q and A section
Same thing with the 3rd link. Go to their main page here
Some news sites do not charge for archived article but apparently Boston.com does. Sorry.
The first three links listed as sources for this article are no longer valid and the fourth requires payment from non-subscribers to view the article. As a public service, this article should be updated or removed.July 23, 2014 - 10:08am
The first link worked for me. Maybe it's you.April 20, 2015 - 9:20am