Are you planning on having cosmetic surgery? Would losing weight help you get a better surgical result? Do you need to lose some weight before your plastic surgery procedure?
Learn some tips to losing some weight before your surgery to lower your risk of complications during and after surgery.
If your surgery is not urgent, it may be suggested for you to shed some kilos first. Not only can it lower your risk of surgical complications but it can also speed up your recovery.
Who may need to Lose Weight before plastic Surgery?
Individuals categorized as “obese” face a higher risk of various health issues, such as heart and lung diseases, skin conditions, and chronic ailments. These challenges may include joint pain and reduced mobility, which can be attributed to excessive weight.
A Body Mass Index (BMI) exceeding the “healthy range” often signifies an accumulation of excess body fat. Being overweight or obese increases susceptibility to conditions like Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, osteoarthritis, obstructive sleep apnea, gastrointestinal problems, and elevates the risk of several types of cancer.
For those with a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9, falling within the normal range, cosmetic surgery can be a viable option. However, individuals with a BMI between 25 and 29.9 (overweight) or 30 and 39.9 (obese) might need weight reduction to get their aesthetic goals safely. Beyond cosmetic concerns, shedding excess weight also diminishes the risk of surgical complications.
Please note that many plastic surgeons prefer patients to have a BMI below 30 or 35, while almost all surgeons refrain from operating on individuals with a BMI exceeding 40. In such cases, referrals to Obesity or Bariatric Surgeons for procedures like sleeve or bypass are typically made.
What are the Surgical Complications associated with being Overweight or Obese?
Common Surgical complications if you have a high BMI or unhealthy weight include;
Delayed wound healing
- Surgical wounds require healthy blood flow. This ensures they receive adequate oxygen and nutrients that are necessary for the regenerative process.
- Excess fat can place additional tension on your blood vessel which can impair blood circulation in the surgical wound. This ultimately delays the wound healing process.
- In fact, there are studies that associate obesity with poor wound healing.
- In a study of obese individuals, researchers found that obesity-induced macronutrient and micronutrient deficiencies can delay the wound healing process. 
- Whilst, in another study, obese individuals were found to be at higher risk for delayed wound healing due to impaired blood circulation that occurs in fat tissue. 
Increased incidence of infection
- Evidence suggests that obese individuals are more prone to infection, which can delay the wound healing process.
- A study reported that hypovascularity (blood vessel deficiency) in obese individuals increases the risk of infections by decreasing the migration of immune system cells into the wound area. 
- In another study, a strong association between obesity and the risk of skin abscesses, respiratory tract infections, and urinary tract infections was found. 
Problems with anesthesia medication
- Excess fatty tissue can interfere with the delivery of the anaesthetic medication.
- In addition, your surgeon may find it difficult to locate veins to administer medication.
Increased risk of cardiovascular problems, pulmonary embolism (PE) or heart attack
Obesity entails a heightened risk of cardiovascular problems, pulmonary embolism (PE), or heart attack due to the additional strain it places on your heart. In this context, your heart has to work considerably harder to maintain equilibrium within your body.
During surgical procedures, the use of anesthesia coupled with this elevated cardiac stress amplifies the likelihood of experiencing a heart attack or chest pain. Alarming research findings further underline the association between obesity and adverse cardiovascular outcomes.
One study reported that obesity is correlated with premature atherosclerosis, characterised by the accumulation of plaque in the coronary artery. This contributes to an increased susceptibility to myocardial infarction (heart attack) and heart failure while also diminishing overall survival rates . These findings underscore the critical importance of addressing obesity as part of your surgical planning to mitigate these serious health risks.
What can you do to help Lose Weight before your Plastic Surgery?
The following are strategies that can help promote weight loss before your surgery:
Drink water right before your meal
In a study of older adults, drinking 500 mL of water right before a meal reduced food intake.  The mechanism behind this is that drinking water could help fill you up, resulting in a feeling of fullness.
Have smaller servings by using smaller eating utensils
The size of your eating utensils (plate or bowl) can impact your food consumption. The smaller they are, the lesser your food intake is. (Put away the big bowls & plates)
Consume non-starchy vegetables
During your meals, replace half the starch with non-starchy vegetables. They provide the same food volume just with lower calories. Research has shown that an increased intake of non-starchy vegetables was associated with a reduced prevalence of weight gain. 
Include protein-rich foods in every meal or snack
Including foods rich in protein such as; almonds, chicken breast, oats, cottage cheese, quinoa, lean beef, broccoli, and yoghurt in every meal or snack can help you achieve your weight loss goals. A study found that the consumption of protein-rich foods was associated with increased satiety , suggesting that it can reduce your food intake.
Eat foods rich in soluble fibre
Consuming black beans, lima beans, avocados, brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, turnips, broccoli, kidney beans, and pears can help reduce your food intake. This is because soluble fibre slows the movement of food through the gut, which increases your satiety.
Exercise – Jog or run at least 4 times per week
Running or jogging not only reduces your body weight but also burns harmful visceral fat (abdominal fat).  This type of fat is associated with a wide array of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
You might be planning plastic surgery or cosmetic procedure, only to discover that you will need to adjust your weight before you can have surgery. Losing weight can even be required before having Bariatric Surgery or Liposuction.
Why getting a Healthy Weight is necessary for Successful Surgery
Attaining and maintaining a healthy weight is pivotal when considering any form of body surgery. Being significantly overweight or bordering on obesity can compromise both the quality of surgical results and elevate the inherent risks of the procedure. In addition to this, bariatric surgeries like gastric sleeves or gastric bands, although effective in shedding excess weight, might not lead to complete weight loss.
Thus, it is essential to a personal weight loss journey before opting for plastic surgery. You should strive to reach a stable and sustainable weight, a prerequisite for scheduling surgeries like body lifts and body shaping procedures.
To become a potential candidate for surgery, one must take proactive measures to shed those extra kilos. Building a Support Team is often beneficial, consisting of motivating family members or friends, a supportive general practitioner (GP), a knowledgeable nutritionist, a psychologist, and other coaches who can provide guidance and encouragement throughout the process of adopting a healthier lifestyle.
Do you need to be at an ideal weight (or goal weight) before proceeding with your surgery?
If you are planning on plastic surgery after losing weight – either on your own or through the help of Bariatric Surgery – you will likely need to plan your surgical journey to be adequately prepared. Body shaping can take several years and require several different procedures.
How does a person become obese?
Obesity is usually but not always – and often not solely – caused due to consumption of excess food or an under-expenditure of calories.
- It may also relate to;
- Genetic traits
- Metabolic dysfunction
- Chromosomal disorders
- Sedentary lifestyles
- Emotional problems
- Hormonal problems
- Certain medication effects
- Or, a long-term lack of regular exercise.
It is much easier to gain weight than to lose it!
Sit down jobs do not assist us in our goals to Lose Weight Before Plastic Surgery. In fact, they increase our risk of weight gain and unhealthy eating patterns.
Diet – rather, your nutritional intake – along with regular exercising – can help you to lose weight before plastic surgery somewhat easily when you start using reasonable meal portions, drink plenty of water, and cut back on foods that are laden with calories but little actual nutrition.
What about those last 10 kilos to lose weight before surgery?
Those last 10 kilos are often very difficult to lose. This can be a result of multiple factors, one of which could be that you have lost weight so now your calorie intake is too high which has resulted in a stall on the scale.
However, we tend to get caught up in the actual number on the scale but having a healthy BMI and a good muscle-to-fat ratio is more important.
If you’re tracking your weight changes in kilos, it seems the first 10 kilos tend to come off somewhat fast, then every subsequent 10 kilos takes a bit longer. Every stage seems to slow down a bit. Then when you get to the last 10 kilos it seems almost impossible to shift, despite your efforts.
This is often the case even for those with a gastric sleeve, gastric band surgery and other measures that limit your intake of food. It seems for most of us, the last stubborn kilos are the hardest to shift. But the good news is, it’s not impossible, it may just take a bit more patience and dedication over time.
Non-surgical weight-loss techniques to lose the last 10 kilos – Tips from a Nutritionist
Get more sleep
Most of us need at least 8-10 hours of sleep every night. Research has shown that sleep helps to burn more calories. When we lack sleep, we often eat more and have a slower metabolism. This combination means we often gain weight (or stop losing weight). When you sleep, your fat loss metabolism is improved and your appetites or hunger seems more easily regulated.
Eat healthy whenever you’re hungry
Whenever you’re hungry, always aim to eat something nutritious and healthy. Try a combination of healthy fats, vegetables and a protein source (fish, meat or non-meat-based protein options). Not only will this balance help your hunger, but it will also make you feel fuller for longer.
No liquid calories
You have to cut down all your liquid calories. Say goodbye to all your aerated drinks, soft drinks, mixers and alcohol drinks so that you don’t get unnecessary calories. Try swapping to plain water whenever you can – or try healthy liquid alternatives such as coconut water, fresh fruit juice, and herbal teas like green tea or peppermint tea. Be sure whatever you are drinking isn’t laden with hidden added sugar. Avoid most pre-packaged juices (laden with sugar or preservatives) and smoothies made with milk-based products as they often have extra calories you’re not counting on.
Do not stop exercising
Just because you’re not shedding any weight, do not stop your regular exercise. Exercise helps you to stay fit and prevents you from gaining the weight that you have lost. At the same time, it is very important not to overdo the workout. When you feel that the weight is not being lost, you need not work out more strenuously in order to make it happen. Just continue with your regular workout regime, or even swap your workouts around. Instead of adding in extra workouts, try swapping things around, for example; swap a long fast pasted walk or jog with a cycle or yoga class or even some laps down at the local pool.
If you exercise more than you should, your body will be fatigued which can lead to muscle weakness and tiredness which can easily lead to cravings and food binges.
Eat healthy snacks
When people are able to lose the initial few kilos, they think that they have earned themselves the right to indulge in some sugary snacks, fried foods or desserts. The way around this is to only eat healthy snacks, such as nuts, fruit, dried fruit, porridge or salads.
Don’t be disheartened
Don’t lose heart if your weight loss suddenly slows down – or seems to stop – at a particular number on the scale. Losing your first 10 kilos or more is usually much easier than you first thought because making changes can make a major difference. But then it can become challenging. In spite of all your efforts, if the weight doesn’t seem to budge for you, keep going. Mix up your exercising, find a new distraction and start paying attention to what foods seem to stall your weight loss and which ones help.
Remember, even small lifestyle changes towards healthier eating and portion control and regular exercises (such as walking and counting steps) can have a cumulative effect over time. So don’t despair if it’s slower than you wished it would be. Slower more gradual weight loss is often more sustainable than rapid as you change your habits and create a healthier lifestyle.
Further Reading – Dr Briggs’ Blogs for your Weightloss Journey
- 6 Tips on How To Lose Weight Before Plastic Surgery
- Best Diets to Help you Lose Weight
- Weight Loss Strategies – Best Diet plans for Obesity
- What’s the Best Goal Weight for Your Physique?
Need help choosing a surgeon? For further information please email. You can also talk to a Patient Care Advisor that can answer your questions from 8 am-6 pm Monday through to Friday on (03) 8849 1444.
Dr Patrick Briggs Melbourne
Dr Patrick Briggs FRACS (Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons) is a Specialist Plastic and Cosmetic Surgeon.
Both he and his team are dedicated to patient care and are committed to treating each and every patient with respect and privacy.
Want more information about your Procedure?
What to Bring to Your Consultation
- If you like, please bring a friend or relative to help discuss the information and your choices.
- Take a lot of notes and thoroughly examine the documents your surgeon provides.
- You may need to undress so it’s a good idea to wear simple clothes.
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