Can a Tummy Tuck be Performed in Obese People?
As a plastic surgeon specializing in tummy tucks, or abdominoplasty, I need to determine who is and isn’t a good candidate for surgery. While there are many benefits for people undergoing tummy tucks (better shape, improved self-esteem), it is very important to know what makes someone a good or bad candidate for tummy tuck surgery. The ideal candidate for tummy tuck surgery is someone who has fullness in their abdominal area with loose skin and muscles. This person should be normal weight or slightly above normal weight for their height. The question comes then, what constitutes being too heavy for a tummy tuck?
In my practice I rely on the patient history and physical examination to determine whether someone is a candidate for tummy tuck surgery. During the physical examination I evaluate how much excess fat they are carrying in the mid-section and whether the excess fat and skin extends to their sides and back. I also rely on determining their Body Mass Index (BMI). BMI is a number derived from a person’s height (in meters)/weight (in kilograms) squared. Established guidelines show that a BMI of 18.5-24.9 is normal, 25-29.9 is overweight, > 30 is obese, and >40 is morbidly obese.
This is important because studies have shown that surgery in obese people have a definite higher risk of complications compared to people who are overweight or normal weight. Some of these complications include poor healing, incisions opening, infections, and seromas, among others. If I see a patient in consultation for tummy tuck surgery who is obese I do not recommend tummy tuck surgery unless their weight is in a more acceptable range. Typically these patients, while initially disappointed by not getting the surgery they want, are grateful for not being subjected to an operation that may have an increased risk of complications.