Florence Mussat, M.D.
680 N Lake Shore Dr. #1030 Chicago, IL 60611 (312) 751-9000


Body Mass Index

Body Mass Index (BMI) And Cosmetic Surgery

Have you ever wondered if your weight or Body Mass Index (BMI) could prevent you from receiving plastic surgery at our plastic surgery practice in Chicago, IL? It is encouraging that innovations in technology and methods are constantly making plastic surgery increasingly safer and that the risks and complications associated with most procedures are low. However, there is a possibility that you should first be closer to your ideal weight and a healthy BMI before considering plastic surgery.

What Exactly Is BMI?

BMI (Body Mass Index) is an estimate of the amount of fat people have on their bodies. Based on a calculation that combines a person’s height and weight into a single number, BMI helps provide an overall picture of a person’s health. The easiest way to determine your BMI is to use an online calculator like the BMI calculator provided by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI).

Body mass index is not a perfect measure of a person’s body fat or overall health. It is merely a “snapshot” of a person’s general health, a rough estimate that shouldn’t be viewed in isolation. It is simply calculated as the ratio of weight and height and is not a perfect measure of body fat percentage since it doesn’t consider the patient’s physique.

As Dr. Florence Mussat and your other health providers will confirm, other factors determine how healthy a person is and how much body fat they might actually have. For example, for a muscular athlete, the BMI calculation may overestimate their amount of body fat, which might also be true during a woman’s pregnancy.

Calculate your BMI by clicking here!

What Is a Healthy BMI?

As a standard assessment of weight to height ratio, BMI is not a perfect measurement, and when discussing it with others, body type and build should also be considered.

According to the NHLBI, there are five BMI categories:

  1. Underweight — BMI less than 18.5
  2. Normal weight — BMI from 18.9-24.9
  3. Overweight — BMI from 25-29.9
  4. Obese — BMI at or above 30
  5. Morbidly Obese — BMI at or above 40

Obviously, BMI is not a perfect measure of health as it is possible to have a high BMI with very little body fat, especially in the case of muscular males. Another indicator of health often considered is waist circumference. Excess body fat around the waist has been strongly linked to diabetes and heart disease. Females with a waist circumference over 34.5 inches and males with a waist circumference over 40 inches are at a higher risk of health complications during and after surgery, making it essential to reach a normal BMI and be close to one’s ideal weight before proceeding with treatment.

A good surgery candidate will have a BMI of 30 or below. While some surgeons will operate on patients with a BMI as high as 35-39, you’re less likely to be suitable for surgery if you are overweight or in the BMI range of 30 or above. Another consideration for surgery is whether you can keep your weight stable throughout the year.

Dr. Mussat has her own tried and tested approach, which includes BMI, in assessing a patient’s suitability for cosmetic surgery, and this is done during your personal consultation with her.

How Does BMI Affect Patient Safety and Results?

Patients with higher BMI values have a higher complication rate and are generally less satisfied with their results than patients with BMIs in the “normal” level. The ideal candidate for plastic surgery is in good overall health and at or near their ideal body weight. Patients with higher body weights (measured in BMI) are at increased risk of these and other complications:

  • Blood Clots (DVT) and Pulmonary Embolism (PE): Patients with a high BMI have a much higher risk of this life-threatening complication.
  • Inflammation and healing: Patients with a higher BMI tend to have more swelling, bruising, fluid retention, pain, and discomfort than those with a lower BMI.
  • Infection: High BMI patients have a much higher risk of surgical site infection after surgery.
  • Sleep Apnea: Overweight patients generally have a higher risk of sleep apnea, leading to problems both during or after surgery.
  • Fatty liver: Patients with a high BMI are at risk of liver dysfunction associated with fat accumulation.
  • Wound healing problems: Wound separation, fluid accumulation, and tissue necrosis are much more likely in the high BMI patient.

These are great reasons to look for ways to reach a stable and sustainable healthy Body Mass Index (BMI) before your surgery. A stable weight is one you’ve achieved and maintained by making lifestyle changes for at least six months, but ideally for several years.

Having an elevated BMI does not mean you’re not healthy. It does, however, increase your surgery risks and is also likely to suppress your immunity responses and impede your recovery process. Aim for a BMI under 30 and being close to your ideal weight before considering having surgery to reshape your body after pregnancy or weight loss.

What Measures Can a Patient Take to Improve Their BMI?

For most of us, losing weight is a slow process requiring dedication and hard work. Making the process even more challenging, genetics often are not on our side, and despite a healthy lifestyle, the weight simply won’t go away. For some patients, more extreme measures to lose weight could even include gastric bypass surgery and other weight-loss surgeries — known collectively as bariatric surgery — make changes to one’s digestive system to help lose weight.

If your BMI is above 30, you should plan to achieve your goal in healthy ways to reduce your weight. Exercise should be a big part of your plan, coupled with sensible eating habits. Remember that your goal is not just to be slimmer; it’s to be in great health for surgery and optimal recovery.

Thirty to forty-five minutes of moderate exercise, four or more days a week, is all that’s needed without a gym membership or expensive exercise equipment. Rather than resorting to the latest diet fad, consult a nutritionist for guidelines on how to eat. You want to be sure that you are not starving your body of the nutrients it needs for your age and gender.

It’s best to be as close to your goal weight as possible before looking into plastic surgery. When your weight has become stable, and exercise and healthy eating is a regular part of your life, you’ll be a better candidate for safe cosmetic surgery.

For professional help in managing your weight and reducing your BMI so that you are in the best shape for that liposuction or tummy tuck, schedule a personal consultation with Dr. Mussat, or contact her office by calling (312) 751-9000. She can offer you a practical, medically supervised weight loss plan to lose weight and help you maintain your results.