By Craig Layt
Are you considering the possibility of undergoing an abdominoplasty after having children or losing weight, but are still carrying a few extra kilos?
If this is you, it is important to understand that your Body Mass Index (BMI) and your plastic surgery results are intricately linked. Read on to learn more about how your BMI can impact your plastic surgery experience, your risks and your surgery results.
What is an abdominoplasty?
Pregnancy, significant weight loss, genetics and the effects of time are all common causes of a loose, sagging or protruding abdomen. An abdominoplasty, commonly referred to as a tummy tuck, is a plastic surgery procedure designed to tighten, contour and rejuvenate the abdomen. The procedure aims to remove excess and lax skin, as well as repair the stretched underlying muscle layer and abdominal wall.
Many patients consider an abdominoplasty when diet and exercise fail to flatten or firm their abdominal region. However, it is important to remember that this procedure is not a weight loss procedure and should not replace diet and exercise as a way of losing abdominal fat.
Ideally, a tummy tuck should only be performed on patients who are already close to their goal weight. This means people who do not intend on losing more weight after surgery, and those who have maintained their ideal weight for several months beforehand.
What is Body Mass Index (BMI)?
The Body Mass Index (BMI) is a measurement of an individual’s body fat content. This is a quick and simple way to determine whether people are underweight, overweight, obese or at a healthy weight for their height. Given this, BMI is commonly used to identify weight problems in individuals and is a great way to scan candidates considering abdominoplasty surgery.
Do I need to be a certain BMI to undergo an abdominoplasty?
If you are considered to be overweight, you may wonder whether you are still an acceptable candidate for abdominoplasty. This can be a tricky question to answer, as every patient is different, and several other factors could potentially play a role in determining whether or not you are suited for the procedure.
However, it is generally accepted amongst most reputable Specialist Plastic Surgeons that patients with a BMI of 40 or above are not suitable for an abdominoplasty. In fact, some surgeons will not even operate on patients with a BMI above 30, due to elevated surgical and anaesthesia risks.
If you are in this grey zone, having a BMI between 30 and 40, multiple factors will be considered to determine whether you are a suitable candidate. The best way to determine this is during a comprehensive consultation with a reputable and experienced Specialist Plastic Surgeon.
Why is BMI so important for abdominoplasty results?
Reaching a healthy weight before undergoing abdominoplasty surgery will only enhance your abdominoplasty results. More importantly, achieving a healthy BMI will minimise the risks associated with both the anaesthesia and the procedure itself.
In fact, patients with a BMI over 30 are at a greater risk during any surgery, not just cosmetic procedures. Additionally, obese patients often have other health issues, such as diabetes, heart disease and joint problems, which are further complications for surgery.
Performing surgery safely is of utmost importance and, unfortunately, patients with a BMI of 30 or higher have a significantly greater risk for:
- Blood loss during the procedure
- Fluid collections in the abdomen
- Blood clots
- Postoperative pneumonia
- Wound separation
- Wound healing problems
It is for this reason that patients within an unhealthy weight range are often unsuitable for an abdominoplasty procedure.
What are my options if my BMI is too high?
If your BMI is too high for an abdominoplasty procedure, yet you’d still like to undergo the surgery, the first step is to seek out a weight loss regime. Set up a healthy lifestyle of diet and exercise first and use plastic surgery as a reward for hard work, rather than a starting point. Think of this as motivation: the more weight you lose, the better your abdominoplasty results will be.
Why BMI may not always be an accurate gauge
As mentioned, BMI results on their own are often not enough to qualify you as acceptable for a tummy tuck procedure. A BMI reading does not consider age, sex, muscle mass or body proportions, and is sometimes less accurate than other methods of measuring body fat. Given this, consulting with a Specialist Plastic Surgeon is the most suitable way to determine whether the procedure is right for you.