Background: Obese patients can develop a large lower abdominal panniculus (worsened by significant weight loss). Patients with advanced chronic kidney disease (CKD) affected by this obesity-related sequela are not infrequently declined for kidney transplantation because of the high risk for serious wound-healing complications. We hypothesized that pretransplant panniculectomy in these patients would (1) render them transplant candidates, and (2) result in low posttransplant wound-complication rates. Methods: In a pilot study, adult patients with CKD who had a high-risk panniculus as the only absolute contraindication to kidney transplantation subsequently were referred to a plastic surgeon to undergo a panniculectomy in order to become transplant candidates. We analyzed the effect of panniculectomy on (1) transplant candidacy and (2) wait list and transplant outcomes (04/2008-06/2014). Results: Overall, 36 patients had panniculectomy (median prior weight loss, 38 kg); all were wait-listed with these outcomes: (1) 22 (62%) patients were transplanted; (2) 7 (19%) remain listed; and (3) 7 (19%) were removed from the wait list. Survival after panniculectomy was greater for those transplanted versus not transplanted (at 5 years, 95% vs 35%, respectively; P = .002). For the 22 kidney recipients, posttransplant wound-complication rate was 5% (1 minor subcutaneous hematoma). Conclusion: For obese CKD patients with a high-risk abdominal panniculus, panniculectomy was highly effective in obtaining access to the transplant wait list and successful kidney transplantation. This approach is particularly pertinent for CKD patients because they are disproportionally affected by the obesity epidemic and because obese CKD patients already face multiple other barriers to transplantation.
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