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Why does BMI matter when having plastic surgery?

Talking about weight in a clinical setting of plastic surgery suitability can be very difficult for some patients, and we understand body weight can be a sensitive matter. Dr Sharp wants to ensure the best possible outcome for each of his patients, and their safety is front of mind in all of his decisions. As a plastic surgeon, he practices evidence-based medicine.

We advise patients of our BMI requirement when they book in their consultation, and while most understand the clinical reasons behind this, some find it very confronting and the cause of anger and disappointment. If you are struggling with your weight and considering plastic surgery, it can be helpful to prepare for the potentially emotional aspects of having your BMI discussed during this process.

This page explains the medical reasons why plastic surgeons have BMI requirements for elective or cosmetic procedures; is it not designed to provide medical advice – or cover all reasons why someone might not be a suitable candidate for surgery.

How to determine your BMI

We recommend using The Heart Foundation’s BMI calculator.

BMI Classifications:

Less than 18.5: Underweight
18.5–24.9: Healthy weight
25–29.9: Overweight
30 and over: Obese

plastic surgery and BMI

Why use BMI as a decision making tool?

Although BMI is not a perfect measure, it is generally agreed to be the most useful and valid for adults. Its use is recommended by the World Health Organisation and in the Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Management of Overweight and Obesity in Adults, Adolescents and Children in Australia.

How does obesity impact surgical safety and outcomes?

A healthy weight will improve your suitability for the procedure, increase the procedure’s overall safety and help you achieve the best possible aesthetic result. Studies show that in addition to an increased risk of anaesthetic complications, having a high BMI gives patients a greater risk of post operative complications and poor outcomes following surgery, such as:

  • EWound infection
  • EDelayed recovery
  • ESeroma
  • EHaematoma
  • EPoor wound healing, tissue necrosis and scar complications
  • ESuboptimal aesthetic results

Should I wait until my BMI is under 30 before consulting Dr Sharp?

Yes, to get the most out of the time and money you invest in your consult, we ask that you see Dr Sharp when you have reached the weight you intend to be at the time of your surgery. This enables him to accurately plan your surgery and advise and quote you, based upon your body as it will be at the time of surgery. Weight loss can change your surgical plan and applicable MBS item numbers (which can also impact your quote). Attaining your ideal weight before consulting a plastic surgeon, means you do’t have to go though the process – and expense – of doing it all over again, once you’ve reached your ideal weight.

What if other measurement tools indicate I am in a healthy range?

Please let us know. There are other weight and health measurement tools available, such as waist-to-height ratio, body adiposity index and body fat measurement. If your BMI is over 30 but you have undergone any of these tests – and they determine that you are in are in a healthy range – please advise us of this, as it is possible that you might meet the criteria for elective surgery.

What should I do if I want to lose weight in order to have surgery?

We recommend speaking to your General Practitioner, an Accredited Practising Dietitian or a trusted health practitioner; lots of options and support exist, from dietary and lifestyle changes through to bariatric surgery. We also recommend the LifeShape Clinic.

Are surgeons allowed to have BMI requirements?

Yes, all surgeons are expected to utilise best practice when determining their criteria for surgical candidate selection – as well as the knowledge and experience they have accumulated over years of performing surgery. Your surgeon should use clear and respectful terminology when explaining their BMI requirements.

Does Dr Sharp have any other health criteria for surgery?

Yes, the list of what places a patient at a higher risk of adverse outcomes during or following surgery is very long and includes (but is not limited to): smoking, certain medications and underlying health problems, alcohol or drug abuse, body dysmorphia and other mental health or addiction issues. These and other factors are included in the surgeon’s decision making process with each individual patient.

Learn more about having plastic surgery on our Frequently Asked Questions page.

Ready to book your initial consult?

Call our friendly patient support team on 3202 4744 or email – we’d love to assist!