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imageBackground: Hypoproteinemia and nutritional deficiencies are common after bariatric surgery, and although massive weight loss (MWL) patients experience increased wound complication rates, the association has not been causatively determined.
Objectives: This study investigated preoperative nutritional parameters and wound complications in MWL patients (postbariatric and diet-controlled) undergoing panniculectomy at 2 academic institutions.
Methods: One hundred sixty-one consecutive patients undergoing elective panniculectomy after bariatric surgery or diet-controlled weight loss were identified. Patient demographics and nutritional indices (serum protein, albumin, and micronutrient levels) were analyzed. Complications including wound separation, infection, and operative debridements were compared. Post hoc comparisons tested for correlation between complications and nutritional markers.
Results: Postbariatric patients lost an average of 151 lb and presented at an average of 32 months after gastric bypass. Diet-controlled weight loss patients lost an average of 124 lb. Despite MWL, albumin levels were higher in the bariatric group (3.8 vs 3.4 g/dL, P < 0.05). Conversely, bariatric patients experienced increased wound complications (27% vs 14%; P < 0.05). Factors which were found to correlate to increased risk of wound dehiscence and infection were elevated body mass index at time of panniculectomy and amount of tissue removed. Multivariate analysis did not show serum albumin or percent weight loss to independently predict complications.
Conclusions: Bariatric patients presenting for elective operations are at risk for protein and micronutrient deficiency. Despite aggressive replacement and normalization of nutritional markers, bariatric patients experience increased wound complications when compared to nonbariatric patients and traditional measures of nutritional evaluation for surgery may be insufficient in bariatric patients.

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