Ideal Weight and BMI for Abdominoplasty Surgery – Am I too fat for a Tummy Tuck?
A Tummy Tuck, also known as an abdominoplasty is one of the most common plastic surgeries. Not only can it help remove excess skin to obtain a better physical appearance after weight loss or pregnancy but it can also help boost confidence and improve your mental state as well. Tummy Surgery aims to reduce the excess, sagging fat and stretched skin around the belly area. The skin that no amount of diet and exercise can budge. Ideal candidates for a tummy tuck may have had pregnancies, C-section/s, hysterectomy, weight loss, and/or ageing. However, many patients worry or are told that they are too fat for the tummy tuck procedure.
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Have you been told you were too fat for surgery?
Many patients come to see us after consulting with other surgeons that told them they are “too fat” for abdominoplasty surgery. While this may be technically and medically correct, there are always better ways to hear the bad news and proactively put a plan in place to achieve your desired surgical result.
In a perfect world, you would be the ideal weight and BMI for surgery. Our specialist plastic surgeons have found that a tummy tuck can provide a boost to help you achieve your perfect shape and weight. A more positive attitude, gentle encouragement and setting a realistic weight goal can really help you commit and get ready for life-changing tummy tuck surgery. You are more than just a number!
This blog is about not only understanding your tummy tuck surgery decision, but also the risks involved and how to know your preferred weight or BMI for surgery. A full Tummy Tuck can tighten the loose, separated muscles of your abdomen for a firmer, more sculptured stomach, and body contouring can be achieved with liposuction.
Find out whether you are ready for a tummy tuck and what you can do in order to help prepare for it.
What is the ideal BMI for a Tummy Tuck?
BMI stands for Body Mass Index, which is the ratio between your body height and body weight. This ratio gives an indication of your total fitness according to your height. There are a lot of online BMI calculators that help you figure your own BMI – example the BMI calculator at the Heart Foundation –
BMI is calculated by dividing your current weight in kilograms by your height in metres squared.
Weight (in kgs) divided by (Height in metres times height in metres) – For example a Weight of 100 kgs divided by Height squared (1.60m x 1.60m) = BMI of 39.0
*According to the National Health and Medical Research Council, a healthy BMI is between 20-25 for most adults.
BMI Ranges from;
- Underweight – below 18.5
- Ideal range 18.5 and 24.9
- Overweight between 25 and 29.9
- Obesity class I from 30 to 34.9
- Class II between 35 and 39.9
- Obesity Class III from 40 between 45
Why it is important to know your BMI?
Because when you are taking steps towards tummy tuck surgery you should know that it only gives you the best results if you reached your ideal weight or ideal BMI.
A BMI of less than 30 is ideal for a tummy tuck candidate. Of course, you CAN still have a tummy tuck if you are overweight and get still good results.
What if my BMI is 30 or above 30?
Having a BMI at or above 30 is not as ideal for this procedure but, it can still be done. You may, however, want/need to lose some additional weight before having your surgery. Remember, the closer you are to your ideal weight the better your final result will be.
It’s important to note that higher BMI’s also mean higher surgical risks. Likewise, there is also a higher risk of patient dissatisfaction in terms of the end result. This is due to the fact that there is an increased likelihood of future weight loss which in turn means more loose skin. The possibility for a secondary procedure is likely if significant weight is lost post-surgery. In order to avoid this and to get you the best possible result, we recommend you be at your ideal weight prior to surgery.
NOTE: Most plastic surgeons will not perform a tummy tuck on patients with a BMI of more than 40. Patients with a BMI > 40 would be advised to lose additional weight before surgery. Unfortunately, some surgeons do not have a great bedside manner and would simply say “too fat” for a tummy tuck.
What are the Risks of having a Tummy Tuck for obese people – BMI > 30?
Not only can a High BMI or high weight greatly affect the final results of your surgery it also subjects you to higher health and surgical risks. It is better to be at a healthy weight before your tummy tuck surgery because;
- Firstly, being in good health helps the recovery process. Your immune system affects the healing process, generally the higher your BMI and body weight, the weaker the immune system. This results in a slower and poorer recovery. Having a poor healing process can lead to a delayed recovery, wound breakdown, poor scars and also the possibility of needing revision surgery.
- Secondly, carrying excess body weight risks safety during and after surgery. It can also cause post-operative pain and infection. Furthermore, higher inflammation can cause more swelling, bruising, and pain.
- Finally, a healthy BMI and a healthy lifestyle are more likely to lead to a good outcome post-surgery. In addition, it will help you not only maintain the results but keep you in a good mental state as well.
- The waistline can also be better contoured with a lower weight and BMI.
How do you know if you are ready for a tummy tuck?
If you have an ideal or slightly overweight BMI you may wonder if you are a good candidate for a tummy tuck. Having a suitable BMI is an indicator of good overall health. However, it is not the only factor considered.
Some other factors that are taken into consideration include;
- Being as close as possible to your ideal weight – hopefully within 10kg. This is a great way to get into the groove. We advise being within 10kg of a maintainable weight because it is realistic for everyone and not too specific.
- Maintaining a stable weight for at least six months, ideally one year. Gaining or losing weight more than once per year is not considered ‘stable weight’.
- Maintaining healthy eating as well as a healthy lifestyle pre and post-surgery.
- Being physically healthy, with no significant medical conditions. The healthier you are, the lower the risks and complications. And, the faster the recovery process.
- Not having future pregnancies or further weight loss planned. Pregnancy and weight fluctuation after the surgery could weaken and separate your stomach muscles causing a change in abdominal shape and waistline contouring. This may require a secondary surgery as how your body will change due to weight loss or pregnancy cannot be predicted.
- Smoking before and after surgery greatly impacts the recovery process and wound healing. Moreover, smoking restricts oxygen flowing through the body and oxygen is needed to heal not only internally but the external wound as well. Smokers tend to have more wound breakdown and infections. Our surgeons ask you to quit and dedicate your health as a priority before, during and after surgery. This is critical – you can’t smoke and have surgery!
- You should also have realistic expectations about tummy tuck surgery. It is not a weight-loss operation, it is a contouring procedure. In other words, it aims to repair muscles, remove excess fat, tissue and skin and contour your waistline.
- Weight-loss surgery requires a weight loss surgeon (bariatric surgeon). A plastic surgeon can then help you after your weight loss journey is complete.
How much weight can you lose from having a tummy tuck?
Weight loss from tummy tuck surgery greatly varies depending on how much excess skin and fat you had before surgery. It may only be a few kgs on the scales but in some cases, it can be as high as 5-8 kg. However, this is not the case for everyone.
The weight lost is excess skin, tissue and fat that is removed during the surgery and is sometimes less than people expect. However, the overall outcome isn’t just about the weight that’s been physically lost, it’s often one of the final steps in shedding the old life and body for a newer you, the you that you have worked so hard to be.
How many dress sizes do you lose with a tummy tuck?
Patients need to have realistic expectations, you can’t expect to drop down from size 20 to size 8. As mentioned previously, tummy tuck surgery is not for losing weight but contouring the body. Despite this, patients can drop one or two clothing sizes due to the procedure.
You will be able to feel the difference in not only your body shape and overall proportions but also in how things fit. You’ll get a smoother figure and flatter abdomen with no droopy belly shape. This can boost your self-confidence and help your self-image.
Tummy Tuck Before and After Photos
Below are a few past patients of Coco Ruby Plastic Surgery that have had an Abdominoplasty by one of our surgeons.
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How to lose weight before tummy tuck surgery
Here are some tips that could help you lose some extra weight before abdominoplasty:
Avoid a crash diet
- Don’t aim for rapid ways to lose weight like a crash diet. They mainly depend on cutting out whole food groups, which leave you irritated. Furthermore, they are unhealthy and usually lacking in nutrients too. Instead plan healthy, moderate, balanced meals to achieve and maintain an ideal stable weight. As they say “fresh is best”.
- Keep motivated and remember that healthy eating is not for weight loss only, it should be a lifestyle you want to maintain, to keep your body healthy and happy not only mentally but physically.
- The first thing you could do is to minimize sugar intake. High sugar food and sweets impact the immune system making your body more vulnerable. Similarly, high glucose and fructose intake easily convert into fats. High sugar intake also increases insulin resistance. Your body’s cells cannot take up glucose easily, this leads to your pancreas secreting more insulin which can, in turn, lead to high blood sugar. This will also affect your moods as sugar causes a buzz and then a crash. Making your own healthy treats is always a good option rather than buying them.
Avoid skipping meals
- Skipping meals is not a good way to lose weight. Going for longer periods of time without a snack during the day is a good way to tell your body that you are starving. This subsequently makes the body save energy by slowing down the metabolism process and increasing insulin response. Moreover, you will not have enough energy for daily activities and exercises. Instead, try having a healthy snack every 2-3 hours. This will boost your metabolism and leave you energized.
- Getting the right amount of sleep per day can help regulate your digestion and metabolism. Less sleep encourages emotional eating and weight gain.
- Eat early – Sleeping with a full stomach of undigested food will make your body store more fats, it can also lead to a less comfortable night of sleep.
- Using small plates and small portions of food will give you the chance to feel full earlier than you used to be. Remember to Eat Slowly!
Avoid Salty foods
- Avoid eating too much salty food. Salty food cause water retention which then leads to high blood pressure and swollen limbs. Swelling and high blood pressure can prevent exercise and cause you to eat even more which works against your plan for weight loss.
Plan your meals
- Start preparing meals that have minimal salt or better yet are salt-free. This will help keep you healthier and lighter.
- Performing strength training exercises that build muscles will not only give you a better firmer shape but also raise your metabolism rate in general. A high muscle to fat ratio helps your body burn even more fats. For best results, you can combine cardiovascular exercises with strength workouts. However, it’s always recommended to consult a doctor before starting strength training workouts and to be supervised by a personal trainer. Its also important to give your body interval breaks between sessions. This is a good way to maintain your strength for long run exercising.
- Drinking a lot of water and keeping your body hydrated will help with consistent weight loss.
Eat water-rich foods
- It has been proved that eating water-rich food such as tomatoes, watermelon, apricots, cucumbers, banana, etc.. decreases overall calorie consumption if they are eaten during meals.
Eat more fibre
- Eating fiber-rich food such as avocados, pears, berries, coconuts, etc.. helps you feel full for longer periods, leaving you more satisfied throughout the day.
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Different types of Tummy Tucks and how to choose the best one
Standard or traditional tummy tuck – Full Abdominoplasty with muscle repair
- Is the most common type of tummy tuck
- Skin and fat from the lower abdomen area below the belly button is removed
- Leaving the remaining skin and muscles tighter.
- Stretch marks below the belly button are often removed/
- The incision is usually made from hip to hip, above the pubic area. This allows maximum removal of excess abdominal fat and skin.
- There will be another incision around the belly button, this is due to the belly button repositioning and is necessary to obtain a symmetrical, natural shape.
- The lower abdomen is contoured and flattened for a smoother look
- A standard tummy tuck is suitable for women with multiple pregnancies. For those who previously had C-section – in most cases, the C-section scar can be removed and patient be left with the abdominoplasty scar
Mini tummy tuck – Skin Only – No Muscle repair
- Ideally for those who have a small amount of fat and skin below the belly button to be removed.
- Or those whose diet and exercising left them with a little droopy pooch or lower abdomen.
- A mini tuck has a smaller incision, along the bikini line with similar abdominal results of a traditional tummy tuck.
- There may be no need to reposition the belly button. However, the belly button may seem a little lower after this procedure.
Extended tummy tucks
- This type is suitable for patients who have had significant weight loss, usually due to bariatric weight loss surgery, or for patients who need to remove a large amount of skin and fat not only from the lower abdomen area but also from the lower back or side “love handle” regions.
- It is more invasive than traditional tummy tuck surgery. It involves a longer incision along the bikini line and extended to the back of each hip.
- Repositioning of the belly button will result in a scar around the belly button.
- Excess fat and skin are removed from the lower abdomen, back, and hips, muscles are also tightened.
- It is often performed in conjunction with liposuction
Reverse tummy tuck – This procedure is NOT available at Cocoruby Plastic Surgery
- A reverse Tummy tuck Involves the upper part of the abdomen just below the breasts. The incision is made either one long incision or two small ones underneath the breasts. Extra skin and fat are removed from the upper incision towards the breasts.
- It is typically sought by patients who have a satisfactory lower abdomen and the upper area is pudgy or loose.
- This is mainly caused by genetics and occasional from weight loss.
- Most surgeons do NOT offer this option as the weight of the stomach and skin ‘hangs’ off the scar – offering a suboptimal result.
Body Lift and Abdominoplasty for Significant Weight Loss Patients (post-bariatric)
- Patients that have lost upwards of 25kg sometimes have a larger amount of excess skin, fat and tissue which requires surgical removal to reduce both horizontal and/or vertical excess around the belly and/or back.
- A Belt Lipectomy, 360 or Circumferential Abdominoplasty removes excess skin all the way around your middle, from front to back.
- The incision is belt-like, around your mid-section.
- A Fleur De Lis Abdominoplasty removes excess skin with a vertical incision as well as the horizontal incision. This can also be called a corset abdominoplasty.
Is a Tummy Tuck suitable for older people?
The short answer is yes, however, as with most things its not that simple. Whilst abdominoplasty surgery has great benefits for mature patients (getting rid of naturally sagging skin due to ageing) younger bodies typically have a faster healing & recovery. In other words, mature patients should expect a longer recovery period and slower healing process compared to younger patients. Furthermore, the post-surgical result will be less smooth looking and the muscles won’t be as tight. Seniors should also be aware that they may be subjected to higher surgical risks and complications than that of younger patients.
That being said, if you are fit and in good health – a Tummy Tuck on a 65 or even 75-year-old patient is possible.
Visit our surgery page to read more about Tummy Tuck Surgery