5 reasons why BMI matters when planning cosmetic surgery

Body Mass Index (BMI) is an indicator relating weight to height. It has become a standardized way to determine obesity, and correlates well to degree of body fat present. BMI is a person's weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) now defines normal weight, overweight, and obesity according to BMI rather than the traditional height/weight charts. Overweight is a BMI of 27.3 or more for women and 27.8 or more for men. Obesity is a BMI of 30 or more for either sex. High muscle mass may raise the BMI.

So why should I lower my BMI before having cosmetic surgery?

1. Normal BMI = safer surgery

A high BMI has been associated with heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and type 2 diabetes. Circulation to the skin is decreased, causing wound healing issues and poor scarring. Also, obesity is associated with Obstructive Sleep Apnea, which carries an increased risk of blood clots in the legs which can break off and go to the lungs (pulmonary embolism). This is a life threatening complication. Each of these can have a deleterious effect on your surgery or healing afterwards.

2. Safer anesthesia

increased subcutaneous fat in the arms can make IV access and blood pressure cuff placement more difficult in the obese patient. Placement of the breathing tube is more demanding in a thick, heavy neck. Obese patients have low lung volume, because of the extra weight on the chest, compressing the lungs. These patients require more oxygen during general anesthesia to maintain safer oxygen levels.

3. Better result

Decreasing excess body fat prior to surgery allows your surgeon to better contour your body by concentrating on those areas not amenable to diet and exercise. If having facelift, breast reduction, breast lift or Tummytuck, it is better to get down to an optimal weight because if more weight is lost after surgery, more skin may need to be trimmed later.

4. Breeds good habits to maintain result

Diet and exercise prior to surgery to lower your BMI resets your lifestyle and can instill healthy habits that will allow you to maintain your hot new body long after surgery.

5. Lost weight and toned body may nix need for surgery

Guess what? A logical and realistic diet and exercise program may be all you need to achieve your goals regarding your physique. Money saved from going under the knife can be spent on a new wardrobe or fun vacation. The most important reason to lower your BMI to a normal range is statistically, you will live longer, and that even trumps a good cosmetic result!

About the Author:

Robert Tornambe, MD

Medical Advisor, Trueself

New York City Plastic Surgeon

Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, Dr. Tornambe has been practicing plastic surgery for more than 25 years. He is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons, was featured in NYMAG's "Best Doctors" issue, and was the Chief of Plastic Surgery at NYC's Cabrini Medical Center for 20 years.

For more on BMI and plastic surgery, click here!

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