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Why do we ask that you have a healthy BMI before surgery and how does this impact your surgery?

Dr Hanikeri offers a range of surgical procedures for the breasts, body and face.

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Body mass index, or BMI, is a diagnostic tool that doctors use to help determine whether or not a patient can successfully undergo surgery. While this is true for any kind of surgery, it is particularly helpful for patients who are considering body contouring procedures such as liposuction, a tummy tuck or breast reduction. Your BMI takes into account both your height and your weight and is easy to calculate.


According to the World Health Organization (WHO), adults who have a BMI that falls between 18.5 and 24.8 are considered healthy. If your BMI is between 25 and 29.9, you are considered overweight and if it is above 30, you are considered obese. Many of the common surgical and anaesthetic risks are moderately higher in this group. Furthermore, if the BMI is over 35, it is classified as “morbid obesity”. Here it is believed that the BMI is high enough to potentially shorten your lifespan and it is a contra-indication for elective surgery since surgical and anaesthetic risks are higher.

These number ranges apply to both men and women, regardless of age.

While most surgeons would consider the “overweight” range a bit of a grey zone, patients with a BMI above 30 are probably going to be better served considering some lifestyle changes with diet and exercise in order to lose weight prior to surgery, or else delay surgery all together. In general, most surgeons consider it safe to operate on a patient as long as his or her BMI is below 30.


Procedures such as tummy tuck (abdominoplasty), belt lipectomy liposuction or breast reduction are considered as body contouring. If you have a BMI in the high range, it is important to keep in mind that these procedures are not weight loss techniques. They are about restoring proper body proportion. Even with liposuction, your plastic surgeon is removing pockets or areas of fat to thin your waist, smooth your abdomen or remove excess fat from your flanks.

It is really important to be aware of what can and cannot be achieved with surgery.


A surgical patient with a BMI of 30 or above has been statistically shown to be at a higher risk for:

  • wound infection
  • complications with anaesthesia
  • nerve injury
  • urinary tract infections
  • heart attack
  • poor healing

As well as other post-operative complications that no surgeon or patient wants. It is therefore vital that you listen to your plastic surgeon and follow his or her BMI criteria in order to ensure a safe procedure and an outcome that is going to make you happy and healthy.