Nfld. & Labrador

Loose skin fix after weight loss not covered in N.L.

A central Newfoundland man is speaking out after he was told his home province won't pay for surgery to remove loose skin that hangs from his chest after he lost 200 pounds.
Andrew Murley says he needs surgery to remove loose skin on his chest after he lost more than 200 pounds. (CBC)
A central Newfoundland man is speaking out after he was told his home province won't pay for surgery to remove loose skin that hangs from his chest after he lost more than 200 pounds.

Andrew Murley, 32, once weighed 404 pounds but after years of dieting and exercising he now weighs 180 pounds. His waist size — once 58 inches — is now 34 inches.

But he still has a problem.

"I was always the fat guy. I'm not the fat guy now, but I'm still that one last step away from being normal," he said.

The skin on his chest stretched as he gained weight but it didn't shrink as he lost the weight.

He said he feels like he has large breasts. He said he tries to hide the loose skin but it keeps him from doing things that other people do — like swimming or running.

"I just want to live a normal life. I don't want to get up in the morning and wrap myself up like a mummy," said Murley.

Andrew Murley first sent his story to YOUR STORY at If you have a story idea, go here.

He's asked the provincial government to pay for breast reduction surgery, but was told he doesn't have hormonally enlarged breasts and the province's health insurance plan doesn’t pay for skin removal surgery.

In a province with high rates of obesity and Type 2 diabetes, Murley had hoped the health-care system would encourage people to lose weight by paying for skin removal surgery.

His doctor recommended getting the procedure as soon as possible, but the province's Medical Care Plan will only cover the procedure if the breast growth was caused by a hormone imbalance or his loose skin becomes infected.

Murley said that's not fair. He said his problem is causing him a lot of pain and discomfort.

"Based on what I'd heard from females having breast reductions based on pain and discomfort, I thought it was discriminatory," he said.

Newfoundland and Labrador health officials emailed a statement to CBC about the province's health insurance coverage.

"Breast reductions or subcutaneous mastectomies are covered by MCP for females and males when there is a medical indication (medically necessary) such as infections under the breasts or neck, or shoulder/upper back pain caused by breast hypertrophy. These procedures would also have to be performed in a public facility.

The decision to perform these types of surgeries is based on the professional judgment of the patient’s surgeon that there is a medical complication as a result of the excess skin and fat. There is no requirement to notify MCP or to seek prior approval.

Breast reductions, subcutaneous mastectomies or the removal of excess skin from any part of the body for cosmetic purposes are not covered by MCP," said the health department's statement. 

Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, director of a weight management centre in Ottawa, said provinces should do more to help people like Murley..

"Who's to say that a person's loose skin has any less of an impact on his quality of life than a person who's got difficulty with arthritis to the point of requiring knee surgery. Quality of life is something we consider on a regular basis in our health-care system," he said.

Murley said he's been told the surgery he wants would cost about $7,000 at a private clinic — an amount he said he can’t afford.