Background: The authors' earlier retrospective report of surgical complications after abdominal contouring surgery provided evidence that post-bariatric surgery patients are at increased risk of developing wound complications compared with a normal population. This prospective pilot study was designed as a comparative analysis of both surgical and wound healing characteristics between massive weight loss and normal patients who present for abdominal contouring surgery. Methods: Excisional wounds were created and polytetrafluoroethylene tubing was inserted during the preoperative period for later harvesting in patients undergoing abdominal contouring following Roux-en-Y gastric bypass for weight loss (n = 16) or abdominoplasty (n = 17). Wound fluids were sequentially collected from drains and subjected to matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) analysis. Standard postsurgical complications were documented. Results: Surgical complications were more common in weight loss patients (47 percent) than in control patients (25 percent). MMP analyses showed that MMP-9 levels remained significantly elevated at postoperative day 4 in patients who subsequently experienced complications in either the weight loss group (p = 0.02) or the control group (p = 0.03). Other parameters showed no significant differences between massive weight loss patients and controls. Conclusions: Although many markers were examined, the ratio of MMP-9 to albumin was the only predictor of postsurgical complications in any group. This lends further support to growing evidence that MMP-9 may be a useful biomarker of postsurgical complications. This pilot work showed no causal factors that explain the higher rates of postsurgical complications in the post- bariatric surgery patient population.
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