‘Why won’t NHS pay for saggy skin op?’: Misery of man who lost 17 stone and has been left with layers of ‘horrible’ loose flesh

Paul Thorn from Princes Risborough has excess skin which he would like to be removed by the NHS
Paul Thorn from Princes Risborough has excess skin which he would like to be removed by the NHS
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A man who shed 17 stone after undergoing a gastric bypass has spent seven years begging doctors to remove the excess loose skin left behind.

Paul Thorn, 30, ballooned to nearly 30 stone due to a combination of a poor diet and asthma medication as a child and after several failed diets doctors agreed to go ahead with the controversial gastric bypass surgery in 2007.

Paul Thorn when he weighed 30 stones PNL-140710-175110001

Paul Thorn when he weighed 30 stones PNL-140710-175110001

But nothing had prepared him for the loose skin which was left behind after he slimmed down, and his new appearance caused him such distress that he has tried to end his life by drinking anti-freeze and taking an overdose.

Gastric bypass patients are required to wait a minimum of two and a half years before they are eligible for loose skin surgery, but Paul’s new appearance caused him to sink into depression.

In desperation, he and mum Jackie flew to Poland, where they paid more than £2,000 for tummy tuck operation which went wrong.

On returning to the UK, the NHS agreed to rectify the damage but Paul still needs the exskin from his back, buttocks and arms removed to give him the confidence to apply for jobs and meet new people.

Paul Thorn from Princes Risborough has excess skin which he would like to be removed by the NHS. PNL-140610-162919009

Paul Thorn from Princes Risborough has excess skin which he would like to be removed by the NHS. PNL-140610-162919009

Self-conscious Paul, who rarely goes out, said: “I just can’t live like this. I would like to have a girlfriend and live a normal life.”

He still has loose skin on his arms and below the waist, which cause chafing sores and make it difficult for him to use the toilet.

He believes doctors are not listening to his pleas and passing the buck to avoid having to sanction the operations.

Paul’s mum Jackie, who works 14-hour shifts in a care home to keep the family afloat, said: “I don’t think Paul was prepared for the aftermath.

“He kept having to tuck the loose skin into his trousers and it was just awful.

“As his mum I am concerned about him. He doesn’t go out much apart from to get the newspapers, and I want him to be able to get a job.

“He worries about what people think. He looks fine with his clothes on, but when he takes them off it looks like he has the body of an old man.”

Paul has applied to the Thames Valley Clinical Commissioning Group on 15 separate occasions in the past seven years, but believes he has been refused on mental health grounds.

He said: “I had about ten or 11 mental health assessments and only one doctor told me I had body dysmorphic disorder.”

Body dysmorphic disorder is an anxiety disorder which causes sufferers to have a distorted view of themselves.

Paul, who lives in Princes Risborough, said: “But I’m not imagining it. It’s a physical thing – I can see it when I look in the mirror. It’s right there.”

Paul says that doctors are trying to convince him to live with the excess skin so that they do not have to carry out the operation.

He said: “They say it’s not that bad.”

Paul estimates the three operations would cost around £5,000 each, meaning a £15,000 total payout – but he said that it would put a stop to the constant stream of creams and tablets he is currently prescribed to deal with the effect of the loose skin as it is.

As part of his lengthy battle, Paul also appeared onBBC Radio 5 Live in 2009 and shared his story with Victoria Derbyshire, when he said had been ‘happier when he was fat’.

A spokesperson for Aylesbury Vale CCG said: “We are aware of this case, but we do not discuss individual details.

“We can advise however that aesthetic surgery for the removal of redundant skin after weight loss programmes or bariatric surgery will not normally be funded.”