Most patients want to know the ideal BMI for a tummy tuck, a body contouring surgery that removes the redundant skin and fat caused by large weight loss or pregnancy.
Leading Los Angeles plastic surgeon Dr. Tarick Smiley has recently posted videos on Snapchat to explain why he doesn’t always go by BMI and other “strict number-based guidelines” but instead depend on the patient’s actual physical fitness.
Dr. Smiley has shown a female patient who had tummy tuck six months ago. Her “before” photo appeared that she had high BMI readings, prompting some followers to ask why the surgeon nonetheless considered her a good candidate for the surgery.
Dr. Smiley said that BMI is supposed to estimate the amount of body fat based on a person’s weight in relation to her height. BMI readings below 18.5 suggest that one is underweight, while the 18.5-24.9 range is considered normal, and the 30 or higher is qualified as overweight and obese.
However, the celebrity plastic surgeon has argued that “BMI is sometimes misleading” because it does not take into consideration that different types of fat have varying metabolic effects on health. For instance, the visceral fat that develops around liver and other abdominal organs has a more deleterious effect than the superficial fat that sits beneath the skin.
“The patient had lots and lots of excess skin and fat over the muscle, thus we were able to remove it. In fact, she shed around 35 lbs. right after surgery due to the significant amount of hanging skin,” said Dr. Smiley on Snapchat.
The surgeon added that BMI should only be seen as one of the possible criteria when determining each patient’s candidacy for tummy tuck or other forms of body contouring surgery.
“Instead of relying solely on BMI readings, we require patients to send their current photos or, better yet, be examined,” said Dr. Smiley.