What is the required BMI for surgery? Can a doctor request you to lose more weight than the actual under 35 BMI?

I know i was told that my BMI had to be below 35 and im actually at 32 so im ready for surgery but a friend of mine was told to lose 30 pounds and that would actually make her BMI 29. Is that a requirement or did her doctor just throw a number out? Yes she sent pictures as well. Could it have been a mistake or do Doctors want a certain look b4 SX? Thank u

Doctor Answers 13

Tummy Tuck - Weight Loss First

Thank you for your question.  I believe it is best to be within 10 - 15 pounds of your ideal body weight prior to surgery for optimal results. Please consult with a board certified plastic surgeon who specializes in body contouring for an in-person examination. Ask to see a lot of before and after pictures of their work to understand what can be achieved. Hope this helps and good luck.


In general, having a lower BMI in a normal weight range is often better and shown to have lower complications in most studies.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 24 reviews


It depends upon your exam and what surgery you are having done. Liposuction and tummy tuck are not for weight loss but to treat difficult problem areas. A low BMI is great, but if there are resistant areas, treating them can jump start weight loss overall.

An exam and consultation with a plastic surgeon is recommended to discuss your options and expectations. 

BMI and Tummy Tuck


I will typically allow a higher BMI for Tummy Tuck surgery but preferably 25 or less due to safety concerns and optimal results. Tummy Tuck and Liposuction work well to contour and reshape tissue for a person who is at a healthy, stable weight however these are not effective for weight loss. Intra abdominal or visceral fat which causes the belly to protrude must be reduced with diet and exercise. Different Plastic Surgeons have BMI levels they are comfortable with but deciding factors include overall health picture and patient cosmetic goals.

Be sure to seek a board certified Plastic Surgeon with plenty of experience in this area.

All the best

What is the required BMI for surgery? Can a doctor request you to lose more weight than the actual under 35 BMI?

It is best to be close to your ideal body weight before major surgery. Generally a BMI 30 or under is associated with better healing and less risk of complications. Especially with tummy tuck it is best to not have a lot of extra fat beneath the tummy skin.

Weight loss

It is generally recommended to be under a BMI of 30 for most body contouring procedures due to improved wound healing.  However patients can do well with slightly higher BMIs and it is up to your surgeon's discretion.  Best wishes, Dr. T. 

BMI and surgery

in general, a higher BMI means a higher risk for complications.  Depending upon your health, age, medications, and type of surgery being done, your doctor may feel that a certain BMI needs to be obtained preoperatively in order to decrease the chance of problems after surgery.  The exact number is a clinical decision made by your doctor.  In order to get a qualified, expert opinion on your surgical options and expectations, always have an in-person consultation with a plastic surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.

Best of luck,
Keith M. Blechman, MD
New York, NY

BMI and surgery

For a tummy tuck, I actually feel that you get the best result if your bmi is under 30. A tummy tuck is actually best for thin people who have a lot of skin and very little fat. The m;ore fat you have the less ideal the result is. 

William B. Rosenblatt, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 11 reviews

BMI requirements for surgery

Thanks for reaching out.  BMI is a measurement of the ratio of your height to your weight. It is a tool to determine how over weight a person is.  In general the higher the BMI the higher the risks of surgery are.  When you start getting above 30, your risks of wound complications start getting pretty high, especially for surgeries like tummy tuck and breast lift.  Ideally I try to work with my patients to get down to 30 or below.  There is no hard rule however that you can't operate on someone with a higher BMI.

I hope this helps :)

John Paul Tutela, MD
Livingston Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 26 reviews


It's important to know what surgery you wish to have. For abdominoplasties, getting to and below 30 is important to reduce morbidity. Each surgeon has an internal standard for safety. It has nothing to do with wanting a certain look or image.

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.