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Do You Need to Lose Weight Before Cosmetic Surgery?

Updated: Jul 6, 2023

There is a lot that goes into preparing for cosmetic surgery. Choosing a procedure and finding the right certified plastic surgeon is essential. You will also need to make necessary recovery plans (we will have a guide for that soon) (we will have a guide for that soon). This doesn't matter if you aren't healthy enough to have the surgery or non-surgical procedure you want. Cosmetic surgery is not a substitute for weight loss, nor is it safe or effective to treat patients who are not at a healthy weight, as it increases the risk of complications and lessens the likelihood of an optimal result.

Because of this, it is crucial to understand what role weight and body mass index (BMI) play in cosmetic surgery. From there, you may also be curious about how to lose any necessary weight safely. Taking time to drop the weight will almost certainly lead to a safer and more satisfactory outcome. Here, we explain what you need to know about getting in shape before cosmetic surgery.

The Relationship Between BMI & Cosmetic Surgery

You want to be at your healthiest before undergoing any elective procedure, including cosmetic surgery. From an aesthetic perspective, being as close to your ideal weight as possible before surgery is often recommended to maximize the results. For body contouring procedures, the ideal weight on your surgery day is within five to ten percent of your goal weight. Maintaining this weight range post-operatively should allow for long-lasting surgical results.

However, additional, non-aesthetic factors should be considered depending on your weight. In 2011, an American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) task force classified patients with a BMI over 35 as 'high risk. A more recent 2018 study determined a BMI over 30 coupled with other factors to be 'high risk.' Today, it is generally accepted that 'high-risk' patients include those with a body mass index between 30 and 35, with an elevated BMI being identified as an independent risk factor for surgical complications.

BMI is a way to measure how fat your body is based on your height and weight. Even so, it can be a helpful marker. Sometimes an elevated BMI can indicate other medical comorbidities like diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea, and hypertension. These things can make it harder to get surgery or improve after surgery.

Why Lose Weight Before Cosmetic Surgery?

The goal of any cosmetic procedure (surgical or otherwise) is to achieve a safe and effective result. Being in the best possible shape preoperatively is an important part of that. We see surgery as something we do together with the patient. The patient may not be concerned about their weight; however, when it affects patient safety, we must explain to them why. In such cases, we can work together to develop a plan to optimize patient safety and surgical outcome.

When your BMI is high, you will likely have problems healing wounds. This is especially true of patients with comorbidities. Keeping blood sugar under tight control is essential to help wounds heal and reduce the risk of infection. Strict blood pressure control can help to minimize the risk of bleeding (hematoma) after surgery. Furthermore, patients with obstructive lung disease or obstructive sleep apnea may not be candidates for ambulatory surgery and may be more appropriate in the hospital setting.

Depending on the circumstances, bariatric surgery and attending a weight loss clinic for prospective patients can be helpful. Once the patient has made progress, he/she will be re-evaluated in further consultation before booking surgery. Most likely, this will require both a virtual and a real-life meeting. Surgery cannot be scheduled if a patient is not within that goal weight range.

There are, however, some notable exceptions to the rule. It is important to discuss the risks of a high BMI and be flexible when thinking about certain procedures. A prime example is breast reduction. Some breast reduction candidates have elevated body mass indexes. This can be understandable because the patient cannot necessarily exercise easily due to the size and weight of their breasts. As such, most patients with elevated BMI undergo breast reduction surgery.

How to Safely Lose Weight Before Cosmetic Surgery

First, we must agree on how important it is for each person to lose weight. Everyone's relationship with their body is different. No matter what, the goal should always be to improve overall health in a safe and long-term way. We hope that will become a commitment to our health and well-being for the rest of our lives. So, we are here to remind you to be patient and kind to yourself on the way.

Getting the proper nutrition is vital whether you are getting ready for weight loss surgery or a cosmetic procedure. It's important to know that people who lose some weight before weight loss surgery do better than those who rely on surgery, even if it's just a cosmetic procedure like body sculpting. A lot of this has to do with how much or how little people know. Surgery doesn't help the client deal with the adverse effects of being overweight or obese. It also doesn't teach them what foods are good for the body or how to eat well.

For this sustained success, the following tips can be helpful:

Focus on food: Eighty to ninety percent of losing weight depends on what you eat. Still, that doesn't mean you shouldn't go to the gym. The best way to lose weight quickly and keep it off is to combine exercise with a well-planned diet.

Do not count calories: A significant difference exists between "diet culture" and eating foods that make your body healthy. From the 1970s until about five years ago, the focus was (wrongly) on calorie counting, low-fat diets, and being deprived. New research in nutrition shows that these methods don't help you healthily lose weight and can even hurt your metabolism. Instead, the key to a healthy weight is to eat foods that are as close to their natural state as possible and to eat as few processed foods as possible.

Skip Sugar: It probably goes without saying, but no one likes sugary, processed foods. Balanced blood sugar and insulin sensitivity are the keys to helping your body use fat as fuel and speeding up your metabolism. Our blood sugar goes up when we eat many foods with added sugar and refined carbs. The pancreas responds to this rise by making insulin. When insulin is around, our bodies store the food we eat as fat instead of using it as fuel.

Treat Food as Fuel: Your blood sugar and insulin levels stay low when you eat a lot of vegetables, protein, and healthy fats. This lets your body use stored body fat as fuel.

Like no two people with cosmetic surgery are alike, no two weight loss journeys are the same. But if you take the proper steps, some general rules of thumb can help you determine what is possible. But first, you need to know precisely what you're working for. It's essential to be clear that when we say "weight," we mean "body fat" because we don't want to lose lean muscle mass, which will slow down the metabolism.

With this in mind, it is acceptable for clients who need to lose 15 Kg or more to lose 10 Kg over the course of three months. This means that the client is losing fat, not water or muscle mass, and will keep the weight off in the future. From there, you can lose up to 50 kg in a year or 20 to 25 kg in six months.

The Takeaway

Getting a cosmetic procedure is a very personal choice, just like being at your healthiest before going through with it. If you're unsure if surgery is right for you, a consultation with a licensed plastic surgeon will help you determine the safest and most effective way to treat your body and your goals. If you need to lower your BMI, working with a nutritionist or weight loss expert can help you do it healthily. Whatever you choose, the most important thing is feeling healthy and good about your body.

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