BMI or Body Mass Index helps determine if a patient has a “normal” weight, overweight or morbidly obese. It takes into account, not only their weight, but also their height. Many doctors use BMI as a very prominent determinant of whether a patient would be considered a surgical candidate for an elective or cosmetic procedure. But does BMI tell the whole story?
Why BMI isn’t enough
Sure BMI is better than looking at weight alone. Because even if a person weighs a lot, they may be very tall. And in that case, they would not be considered overweight.
However, BMI doesn’t take all nuances of body shape into account. For example, in the video below, the patient had a BMI of greater than 30. She would be considered obese. But there were several reasons she was a great candidate for a tummy tuck. First, she was healthy. No high blood pressure or diabetes. Second, her weight was concentrated in her thighs, not her abdomen.
So while her BMI was high, it didn’t accurately reflect the operation she wanted – skin removal from her abdomen. If most of her weight was in her abdomen, then it would be more appropriate for her to lose weight first since skin removal would not address the excess fat around her intestines (visceral fat). In her case, she her torso and abdomen were amenable to a tummy tuck and she had a great result.
If a patient is considered obese, they can still be offered a procedure. As long as no more than 5 liters of fat is removed in an operation, the patient can go home. With that limitation, they may have to come back in stages for surgery. But when patients undergo a cosmetic procedure that’s not medically necessary, there’s no reason to take unnecessary risks.
Video on Body Mass Index
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