Why you might be denied surgery because of your BMI

Sometimes patients will go into a plastic surgeon’s office excited about a decision to finally move forward with breast or body contouring surgery, but then afterwards emerge having found out they are not currently a candidate because of excess body fat. This scenario is not only disappointing, but it can be an emotionally deflating and potentially embarrassing experience for patients.

As your agent we sympathize over the emotional pain that such patients feel, and we want to help them realize their goals. However there are several specific reasons that your plastic surgeon might recommend weight loss prior to undergoing a procedure and our motivations are only to provide you with the safest care and the best results.

What is a BMI?

BMI is calculated by comparing your weight to your height. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classifies anyone with a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 as healthy, anyone between 25 and 29.9 as overweight, and anyone with a BMI of 30 or higher as obese. Overweight or obese patients face different risks and complications from plastic surgery and delayed healing.

The BMI calculation is not perfect – for instance it does not take into account muscle mass versus fat mass – yet it is a pretty good basic measurement nonetheless. And it is important to plastic surgeons because BMI is a good predictor of the risks of surgery and the likelihood of a good result.

Why you need to be a healthy weight prior to surgery?

Many medical studies have shown that increased BMI is a predictor of potential complications that can occur from plastic surgery. A higher BMI is associated with an increased risk for wound complications, such as dehiscense (the wound opens up), infection, or tissue necrosis (tissues do not survive due to poor blood supply). The increases are typically small for patients who are overweight – a BMI 25-30, but they start increasing quickly as the BMI enters into the obese range, and if you have a BMI of 35 or above, this makes you nearly 75 percent more susceptible to infection.

In general, it is a fair statement that the higher the BMI, the higher the risks of surgery. These complications can be significant, so your plastic surgeon considers these risks with great thought.


What is the “cutoff” BMI number for plastic surgery?

That is a difficult question, and there are some exceptions based on individual surgical procedures, body fat distribution, muscle mass and other factors. Many plastic surgeons consider a BMI around 30 – 35 to be in the range where surgery should be delayed until weight loss is achieved.

For some hospitals & surgeons in Thailand they can be quite strict in denying surgery if your BMI is in this range, due to not only the higher risks that comes with surgery, but they also don’t want you to travel all the way to Thailand only to find out you can’t have surgery.

With cases where the BMI is quite high they will most likely request that you get to a particular number before travelling overseas for surgery or recommend surgery in your home country, so if you have complications or take longer to recovery, you will not have to travel anywhere.

Its not just before your surgery as well…

Post-surgery, it is essential to maintain the weight you’ve lost both naturally and from the weight-loss procedure. For a procedure like liposuction, tummy tucks, body contouring etc the results will be longer-lasting if you remain fit and maintain a stable weight. Employing a healthy diet and exercise regimen is key.