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Old 12-19-2004, 01:59 PM   #16
MrsJim's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Silicon Valley, California
Posts: 5,020


Regarding excess skin - I've seen this posted NUMEROUS times at other forums and thought this needed to be addressed here for reference...

With so many people losing a great deal of weight and having to deal with excess skin as a result...for some reason the 'buzz' is that burn centers (such as Shriners) will perform free or discounted plastic surgery if you donate the excess skin...

Unfortunately...'taint so.

Here's an article which I found here that pretty much sums that up.

Can I donate excess skin to a skin bank?

I recently lost a great deal of weight and I have a lots of excess skin. Can I donate my excess skin to a skin bank to help burn patients? Will a tissue bank pay for my skin reduction surgery if I agree to donate my tissue?

These questions are asked quite often by individuals who have lost large amounts of weight and have excess skin folds. We appreciate your desire to donate. However, this kind of donation is unworkable. Allow me to explain why, and to give you an alternative.

Our tissue bank does not obtain skin from these patients for several reasons. First, this method of obtaining skin is cost prohibitive. The amount of transplantable tissue obtained from tissue reduction surgery is minimal when compared to the amount of tissue obtained from a cadaveric (deceased) tissue donor. The procurement costs would be much greater as it would require the services of doctors, nurses, anesthetists, and other health care professionals as well as the use of an operating room and other hospital services. Cadaveric donation requires only trained tissue recovery technicians, and they can procure tissue after the body has been sent to the morgue (rather than in an operating room), thus keeping expenses to a minimum.

Additionally, cadaveric donated tissue can be used for transplant soon after recovery (as soon as quality assurance testing is complete), but the FDA requires that tissues recovered from living donors must be placed into quarantine for six months. At the end of six months, all serologic testing (HIV and Hepatitis) must be repeated before that tissue can be used.

It is virtually impossible to obtain a skin graft from tissue than has been removed during tissue reduction surgery. The usual procedure for tissue reduction surgery involves the removal of skin and underlying attached tissues, but skin grafts used for transplant are only 15/1000 (0.015) of an inch thick and do not include these underlying tissues. Skin grafts for transplant are procured by the use of a surgical device called a dermatome, which peels off a very thin (0.015 inch), uniform layer of skin, and it only works on skin that is stretched taut over and firmly attached to muscles, such as in the back, arms, and legs. Very few people have an abdomen taut enough to permit skin tissue recovery. Skin folds (such as those removed when someone has lost a large amount of weight) lack the firm attachment to underlying tissues, and so the dermatome can't work properly.

I do not know of any tissue bank that would pay for a donor's tissue reduction surgical expenses for the purpose of obtaining skin for transplantation.

I would like to encourage you to be sure that your family knows you would like to donate your tissues upon death. Your gift can save lives and greatly reduce suffering.

Tom Taddonio
Director, University of Michigan Skin Bank
Mrs. Jim
Highest weight: 265 pounds, size 24/26 (May 1990)
May 1991: 174 pounds (-91 lbs)
September 1996: 155 pounds (-110 lbs)
*LIVING at: 145-149 pounds, size 4/6 (-116/120 lbs)

*Maintenance = LIVING.
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