Is It Safe to Have a Tummy Tuck with a Higher BMI?

I'm booked to have a TT and BA with BL next week, or rather I'm travelling with a I am to meet my highly qualified board certified surgeon. I have been dieting for 2 years, have already lost 75lbs and have plateaued weight for several months now. Just cannot lose another pound! My nutritionist tells me my body just needs a good rest for a while. Because I still have 40lbs to lose my BMI is still higher than 30. I really want my tummy tuck now, can I still proceed?

Doctor Answers 13

It depends on whether your remaining excess fat is internal or external to your abdomen.

I do a fair number of tummy tucks on ladies like you but also tun a fair number down until they lose more weight.  If you still have a lot of "visceral fat" inside your abdomen, a tummy tuck will not be very effective in flattening your abdomen.  If most of your excess fat is external to your abdomen, a tummy tuck will be effective.  This is the way to determine where your excess fat is.  Lie down.  If your abdomen flattens, you are a good candidate for tummy tuck.  If your abdomen stays round, you are not and you should lose more weight.  Patients who still have a lot of visceral fat are often disappointed with their results.  They are also at substantial risk for post-operative complication.

Lisa Lynn Sowder, M.D.

Seattle Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 73 reviews

Tummy tuck, weight loss, cosmetic surgery

I have to do these routinely becuse Iwork in the MIwest of the United States.  You can perform them with or without liposuction and get very reasonable results.

Tummy Tuck is safe even if your BMI is above normal


Having a tummy tuck even if you are not at your ideal weight is OK.  Congratulations on your weight loss.  

Having a BMI that is above 30 does not prevent you from having a tummy tuck, but you have to understand that you have a slightly increased risk of delayed healing.  We deal with many patients who had a gastric bypass or a LapBand procedure and have lost a tremendous amount of weight, yet still have a BMI >30.  The only thing we do different for these patients (as compared to patients with BMI<30) is that we are more vigilant in preventing seroma formation (when body fluid pools in the operated area and then needs to be drained) by the use of surgical drains.


Martin Jugenburg, MD

Martin Jugenburg, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 469 reviews

Tummy Tuck with High BMI

Many patients have tummy tucks even if they are not at their "ideal weight."  However, you have to realize that the more weight you loose, the better the results could possibly be.  My advice is to be at your "realistic weight" at the time of surgery.  By "realistic weight" I mean the weight that you are with your normal style of living, diet and exercise pattern.  It is hard to maintain an "ideal" weight if it does not match your motivation or lifestyle.  Good luck.

David Shafer, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 77 reviews

With tummy tuck, ideal weight gives ideal results

Despite your BMI of 30, tummy tuck is a safe procedure. Your weight loss of 75 pounds is wonderful, and the next 40 should be within your reach. The tummy tuck however is the 'easy' part. It just makes sense that the best results are seen in individuals that have reached an 'ideal' body weight, the one that they plan to remain at after the procedure.

Best of luck,


Peter E. Johnson, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 43 reviews

It is safer to do ONLY tummy tuck in overweight patients.


We do tummy tuck on patients with higher BMI. Of course, you will still be overweight, but you will have flat stomach.  This can be an incentive to lose more weight.

Measures can be taken to make procedure safe.  But I would not do your breasts at the same time.  That really increases the risk.

George J. Beraka, MD (retired)
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

Be at your "best" weight

You will certainly get the best result from being at YOUR best weight.  As long as you are otherwise healthy and are at a stable weight, a board certified plastic surgeon can assess your best elective options for you, always understanding that safety comes first.

It sounds like you are at a stable weight and that you and your plastic surgeon have decided that your goals are reasonable and surgery can be performed safely. That's definitely a decision the two of you need to make together.

Best of luck!

Brian K. Brzowski, MD, FACS
Ogden Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 76 reviews

Tummy tuck and high BMI

You haved done a lot of work to get where you are.  I would encourage you to keep working if you can make progress on getting your BMI down.  I understand that many people will get to a certain weight and not be able to get down any more with out some extrodinary effort.

The weight that you are when you do your tummy tuck will need to be discussed with your surgeon.  I prefer to have people below a BMI of 30 but after a review of their activity and goals we may decide to proceed with surgery at a higher BMI.  As a general rule you will be at risk for higher complications for wound healing, infection and blood clots.  I would recommend higher levels of prophylaxis for these complications if your BMI is above 30.  No tummy tuck is done with out some risks but if you are careful you can have a good result and take care of any problems that occurs.

Best Wishes

Dr. Peterson

Marcus L. Peterson, MD
Saint George Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 38 reviews

Tummy tuck and a high BMI

Congratulations on your weight loss.  You and I know that losing weight can be very difficult.  I have operated on patients with higher BMIs, but I make it clear to them that they are at higher risk for wound healing problems, clots in their legs/lungs and other postoperative complications.  Not all high BMIs are the same.  Those patients with heart disease, lung disease, diabetes or any other chronic disease can put you behind the complication "8 ball" and prohibit you from having cosmetic/elective surgery.Improving your body contour involves good nutrition, strong muscles and bones AND cosmetic surgery.  If you do just may not reach your goal.My suggested peri-operative plan includes a plan for good nutrition, an exercise program (if they aren't on one already) and finally the surgical plan.

Emily Pollard, MD
Philadelphia Plastic Surgeon
4.3 out of 5 stars 21 reviews

Is It Safe to Have a Tummy Tuck with a Higher BMI?

Although you will likely be a good candidate for tummy tuck surgery at some point, it is not in your best interests to proceed now.  Having the procedure performed when you are overweight, exposes you to additional risk around the time of surgery and increases your risk that additional surgery may be necessary down the line for a multitude of reasons.  Unfortunately, some of the risks (such as deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism) associated with surgery, at your current weight, can be life-threatening. 

The “ideal” patient for tummy tuck surgery is one who has completed pregnancies, is psycho socially/emotionally/financially stable, has an excellent social support system surrounding him/her, is capable of arranging enough recovery time, does not smoke and who has reached a long-term stable weight. 

At this point, I would suggest that you  seek consultation with other professionals,  other than plastic surgeons.  Physicians who specialize in weight loss, nutritionists, personal trainers, and/or bariatric surgeons are professionals to consider.  

Having said this, there are some patients who despite all efforts, are not able to reach their long-term stable weight prior to undergoing abdominal wall contouring surgery. These patients benefit from operations such as panniculectomy ( which involves excision of the lower abdominal wall skin/adipose tissues.  For these patients, the panniculectomy operation may provide the patient a “jumpstart”  both physically and mentally (as he/she works towards achieving their final weight and health goals). 

I hope this, and the attached link, helps.  

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1,498 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.