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MONDAY, May 4, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Obese people who choose to have plastic surgery are 35 percent more likely than normal-weight people to have to visit the emergency room or be admitted to the hospital within 30 days after their operation, new research suggests.
The findings highlight the importance of telling obese patients about the risks involved with such surgical procedures, the study authors said.
"It is important to educate overweight and obese patients regarding their risk of complications" before they undergo the procedure, the researchers wrote. And doctors should more carefully manage existing health conditions these patients may have, the study authors cautioned.
"Because most insurance companies will not cover complications associated with elective cosmetic procedures, these additional costs [of treating complications] may fall on the patient," they added.
The researchers, led by Dr. Michelle Sieffert, of Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, examined data on about 48,000 adults who had undergone outpatient plastic surgery. The patients had widely performed procedures, such as liposuction, "tummy tucks," breast reduction or eyelid surgery.
About 4 percent of the patients were deemed obese. These patients had higher rates of other health issues, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and mental health problems, the researchers said.
The study, published in the May issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, found that just over 7 percent of the obese patients had to visit the emergency department or were admitted to the hospital within 30 days after surgery, compared to just under 4 percent of the patients who were a normal weight.
Obese people with three or more health issues who had a "tummy tuck" had the highest rate of hospital visits, the authors said in a journal news release.
Meanwhile, 3.2 percent of the obese patients developed complications within 30 days after their cosmetic procedure, compared with 0.9 percent of those who were not obese, according to the report.
More hospitalizations and complications led to increased health care costs for these patients, the study authors said. The researchers calculated that expenses were $3,900 higher following liposuction, $7,100 higher after a "tummy tuck" and $7,400 higher for breast-reduction surgery.
-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
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