AN ANGRY slimmer who shed more than eight stone says he is desperate to get a tummy tuck but the NHS has refused to pay - even though doctors offered him a gastric band when he was overweight.
Dave Wilkie, of Sharnbrook Grove, Wildwood, has been left with such a large amount of saggy skin on his stomach that it hangs down to his thighs and weighs a stone.
He says the skin is so uncomfortable he often feels hampered by it and when he exercises it makes such a loud slapping noise it leaves him embarrassed.
Mr Wilkie, 62, lost the weight last year after ballooning to 26 stones and suffering high blood pressure.
He was offered the chance to have gastric band surgery but refused as he wanted to lose the weight in his own way. He joined Slimming World and signed up with a gym.
But Mr Wilkie says his GP told him he would not meet tough NHS criteria for a tummy tuck even though a private consultant has told him it would improve his life.
“It would have cost the NHS thousands to give me a gastric band but I refused so I could lose the weight on my own and yet they won’t recognise that,” he says.
“My health has improved so much since. I used to take 10 tablets for my blood pressure but that number has reduced drastically.
My body mass index has gone from 39 to 31. I go swimming or to the gym every day and do zumba.
“The skin is so uncomfortable. I could wear smaller clothes if I didn’t have it.
"A private consultant told me it would have big health benefits so I could do more exercise and raise my self esteem.
"I would lose a stone of flesh.
“It’s so embarrassing when I’m at zumba and my skin makes a loud noise.
"I will keep losing the weight but the skin won’t go. I have saved the NHS money by not having a gastric band so I can’t believe I can’t be considered for this surgery.”
Current NHS criteria is that tummy tucks are only available in exceptional circumstances if a patient can prove that the loose and excess skin is causing significant mental distress and preventing leading a normal life.
If the disfigurement or saggy skin is not seen as profound enough to qualify on mental health grounds patients are likely to be turned down.
South Staffordshire Primary Care Trust declined to comment on Mr Wilkie’s case.