Recent Studies Identifies Obesity as Major Risk Factor for Elective Cosmetic Surgery

Board Certified Plastic Surgeon Dr. Buford

Board Certified Plastic Surgeon Dr. Buford

If you are overweight and considering elective Cosmetic Surgery, you might want to shed a few pounds before moving forward.  A recent Johns Hopkins study by Dr. Martin Makary found that obesity was a factor that increases the risk for complications among obese patients undergoing elective breast procedures.

The study examined patients who underwent elective breast surgery between 2002 and 2006 and included 2403 women in the obese group and 5597 in the normal-weight group.  They found that within the obese groups, 18.3% experienced complications within 30 days of surgery compared with a mere 2.2% rate of complications in those of normal-weight.   Interestingly, differences between the two groups was greatest in cases of inflammation where obese patients were noted to be 22 times as likely to suffer a complication as compared to those determined to be of normal weight.  They were also 13 times as likely to experience infection and 11 times as likely to report pain.

Improvements in both surgical technique and anesthesia in addition to refinements in peri-operative care have made elective procedures much safer than ever before.  That being said, there are still factors which will dramatically increase your risk for complications both in the early as well as in the late healing period.  To optimize your results and reduce your risk for untoward effects, factors such as obesity need to be taken into account to ensure both a smooth surgery as well as an uneventful recovery.

In my practice, I counsel patients on factors which may potentially have a negative impact on their outcome and do whatever I can to try and address them.  On that note, Colorado was just rated as having one of the lowest rates of obesity and so this is not a risk factor that I encounter very frequently—especially with breast augmentation or breast lift procedures.  Instead, I usually see patients for body contouring who would benefit from losing a few pounds before their surgery in order to achieve the most optimal results.  In my opinion, if you are more than 30-40 pounds over your ideal body weight, unless there are other mitigating factors, you really should try and lose that weight before moving forward with surgery.  In addition to an increase in risk factors, as we have seen with this study, there is also a refined ability to create better contour when a patient is closer to their ideal body mass.

That being said, I recently saw a patient who is not close to her ideal body weight but who had a significant amount of extra abdominal skin and was having trouble with chafing and rashes.  I suggested to her that we move forward with a tummy tuck (to tighten the muscle and remove the excess hanging skin) and then look at possible liposuction and additional tightening down the road.  In this case, a staged procedure is acceptable and the risks warranted.

Regardless of the procedure you are interested in, always consider a few things before moving forward.  First, make sure that you are prepared both physically and mentally for the surgery and the recovery and that you are doing it for the right reason.  Next, make sure that the surgeon you choose not only knows what they are doing but is prepared if everything doesn’t turn out exactly as planned.  Since there are no guarantees in life, this last point is even more important and so be sure and evaluate your potential Plastic Surgeon’s training, certification, and experience.  In the end, this makes all the difference in the world.

For more information, please contact our Denver Plastic Surgery office .  We look forward to working with you!

*Photo Courtesy of Luigi Diamanti