Many people are surprised to hear that a patient’s BMI (body mass index) plays an important role in a safe and problem-free surgical result. There is a general misconception that plastic surgery, especially that certain body contouring procedures such as liposuction and abdominoplasty (tummy tuck), for instance, are tools for weight loss. This is not the case.
For most surgical procedures we ask patients to be at or near to their goal weight, ideally within about 10-20lbs of their target weight, before undergoing any kind of surgical procedure, and especially when planning to have any kind of body contouring procedure, including a Brazilian butt lift (BBL).
There’s a variety of reasons for this. Most body contouring surgeries overall are procedures that address the transformations that have come about with significant weight loss, such as stubborn pockets of fat and excess or sagging skin. When you’re near to your goal weight before undergoing such a procedure it ensures that you’ll have the desired result.
After your surgery, you want to remain more or less at the same weight, because any significant weight fluctuations, either losing or gaining weight, will have an impact on your final result.
But really one of the most important reasons we want patients near to or at their goal weight within certain BMI limits is because it plays a major role in the risks associated with undergoing surgery. The lower the surgical risks, the safer the procedure, and the better the outcomes. Patient safety is absolutely paramount for us at The Plastic Surgery Clinic.
What is BMI?
BMI or body mass index, is basically an approximation of how much fat you have on your body. It usually combines your height and weight in order to give an approximate assessment of your ideal body weight and overall health.
The WHO (World Health Organization) considers a healthy BMI to be anywhere between 18.5 and 25. If you’re not sure what your BMI is, there are a variety of BMI calculators such as this one that can calculate it for you.
It’s important to keep in mind that BMI is just a rough indication or screening method for your weight category. There are a variety of other factors that play into what is healthy and what isn’t. Your BMI can also be skewed if for instance you’re pregnant, or if you’re super athletic or very muscular. Muscle weighs more than fat, and therefore your BMI will not necessarily correctly indicate how much fat you actually have on your body.
What is a Recommended BMI for Surgery?
Every plastic surgeon has his or her own pre and post-operative guidelines, but with this metric in particular you’ll find that most surgeons will want your BMI to be under a certain number in order to be able to safely perform your surgery.
To ensure the best outcome for all of our patients, at The Plastic Surgery Clinic we recommend that your BMI be under 35 before undergoing surgery. We’re always really happy to meet new patients and we always encourage you to come in for a free consultation no matter what (especially so we can provide you with more information no matter where you’re at), but we find it can be helpful to meet your surgeon once you’re at or very near to your goal weight.
BMI Surgical Exceptions
We do have one exception to the BMI guideline, and that is for individuals who have already lost a significant amount of weight. Individuals who have lost anywhere from 50-100lbs or more may be exempt from having a BMI of less than 35.
That being said, it’s important to keep in mind that your surgeon may provide you with a goal weight to achieve before scheduling your surgery. This weight will be dependent on a variety of safety factors as well as on your own personal goals and expectations.
What Are the Risks Associated with a High BMI and Surgery?
So why is being at a certain BMI important for surgery? It’s primarily for your own safety. If you’re under a BMI of 35 prior to your surgery, in many cases it corresponds to good health overall.
Many studies show that high BMIs often (but not always) correlate with a variety of health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, liver problems, breathing problems, as well as a number of different types of cancers, amongst other unwanted conditions. If you have any of these or other serious health concerns you may not be a candidate for surgery.
Then there are the direct risks of a high BMI with surgery. A patient with a higher BMI can encounter risks and post-surgical complications associated with general anesthesia, an increased risk of infection, a slower wound healing response, fluid accumulation also known as a seroma, as well as an increased risk of having to undergo surgery again in order to deal with any number of these complications.
At The Plastic Surgery Clinic we always want the absolute best outcomes for our patients. We will never agree to something that is unsafe or could be detrimental to your health. Your surgery is all about helping you feel the best you can, so you want to be in the best position you can possibly be to achieve your desired goals.
If you still have questions about how your surgical procedure might be affected by your BMI, we’re always here to answer them. No question or concern is too big or too small to bring up with us.