Obesity and plastic surgery simply don’t mix. Several studies have already shown that obese patients—i.e., their body weight is at least 20 percent higher than it should be—face higher risk of wound infections, heart attacks, nerve injuries, and urinary tract infections after surgery.
Furthermore, morbidly obese patients, meaning their weight is more than 100 lbs. over their ideal weight, are twice more likely to die as a result of any non-cardiac surgery.
Due to higher risk of postop complications, leading Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Dr. Tarick Smiley says that obese patients also tend to incur more hospital bills, citing a 2015 study suggesting that they paid additional $7,100-$7,400 after tummy tuck and breast reduction.
The study has also suggested that obesity was linked to higher risk of serious complications that required hospital admission within 30 days after plastic surgery: About 72 percent higher compared to non-obese patients.
Obese patients are also at an increased risk of poor scarring and healing problems because they typically suffer from some type of malnutrition and their skin has been damaged by the excess weight over the years, as suggested by experts.
While it might be easy to turn down obese patients seeking an elective body contouring surgery, this may not be the case with someone considering breast reduction to help improve her mobility, which could allow her to increase physical activities to promote weight loss. In this scenario, Dr. Smiley says the benefits should always outweigh the potential risks.
Furthermore, the celebrity plastic surgeon says obese patients should be made aware of the risk so they can make an informed decision.
“Letting them know of the increased risk in terms of wound breakdown and delayed healing also allows them to handle postop complications better should they happen,” says Dr. Smiley.
Should a plastic surgery is deemed necessary to improve the patient’s quality of life, experts recommend at least a 24-hour hospital stay for closer monitoring.