Chewing the fat

Chewing the fat

OP. DR. YUNUS DOĞAN

What does BMI mean and what does it mean to me?

BMI stands for “Body Mass Index'' and it’s a widely recognized - and scrutinized - method to approximate a healthy body weight based on your height. By no means 100% accurate for everyone all the time, your BMI is merely one way to find a good range in which your height and weight should fall.

To calculate your BMI, you divide your weight in kilograms (kg) by your height in meters squared (m2.) If you’re not feeling mathy, you can use Calculator Soup’s universal BMI calculator.

Once you’ve learned your BMI, you can reference the following chart to see where you fall:

  • Below 18.5 - underweight
  • Between 18.5 and 24.9 - healthy weight
  • Between 25 and 29.9 - overweight
  • Over 30 - Obese


Three sources around the world quoted the same benchmarks for understanding your BMI. (For further reference, feel free to check out the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), the US’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Australia’s Department of Health. Calculator Soup’s benchmarks are slightly more relaxed, meaning you can be heavier but tell yourself you’re not as unhealthy as other websites suggest. As always, we recommend checking in with your medical professional for his or her advice.

When the approximation is an abomination

Since BMI is based on only two data sources, it fails to take into account other factors such as your ethnicity or actual overall fitness level. For example, as the NHS points out, South Asian adults might be more susceptible to diabetes even if their BMI is a healthy one of 23. Bodybuilders and other people with a greater-than-average mass of muscle may end up classified as overweight even though they are physically sound and healthy.

Other variables include gender, life situation and age. If you compare a man and a woman with the exact same BMI, the woman’s body will most likely contain more body fat. Pregnant women will have a higher BMI but their weight isn’t all fat; some of it is the miracle of life! Those with a physical disability who can’t walk may have lost muscle mass and therefore their BMI might underestimate their amount of body fat. And older people tend to have more body fat than younger adults, so if Grandma is a little cranky when you ask her about her BMI, you can understand why.

Other ways to measure your health

Measuring your waist circumference is considered a more accurate way to determine health risk. As The Heart Foundation suggests, you find the top of your hip bone and the bottom of your ribs. Exhale normally. Place a tape measure halfway between these two points, aligned with your belly button. Wrap the tape around your waist but leave just enough room to find one finger between you and the tape. If you’re a man and your waist is over 94cm (37”) your health could be at risk. The same is true for women whose waists are over 80cm (31.5”.)

Comparing your waist-to-hip (WHR) ratio is another way to determine how much fat you’re storing at your waist, hips or buttocks. Try to measure this prior to getting a BBL (Brazilian butt lift) as that may skew your results. Healthline recommends either getting your medical professional to calculate your WHR or doing it yourself in three simple steps:

  • Stand up and breathe out. Measure the smallest part of your waist - just above your navel - with a tape measure. This is your waist circumference.
  • Next, measure the largest part of your hips - the widest part of your buttocks. This is your hip circumference.
  • Divide your waist circumference by your hip circumference. This is your WHR.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends .85 or lower for women and .9 or lower for men. People with WHR measurements higher than the WHO’s recommendation could be at risk for cardiovascular disease or diabetes, let alone undertaking plastic surgery.

BMI and plastic surgery

As if lowering your BMI just for the sake of health isn’t enough of a reason, it can also dash your plastic surgery dreams. Your tummy tuck won’t be as successful as it could be if you are still carrying around excess weight. Surgery to remove excess skin, such as tummy tucks, are exceptionally more successful when there is more to remove. Your changes will be more drastically seen and dramatically felt.

According to an article on plasticsurgery.org, a study taken between 2014 and 2018 showed an increase of wound healing complications for breast reduction patients whose BMI was higher than 30. Almost half of all the patients experienced some problems with superficial healing; however, patients with a higher BMI took longer to heal. Some patients develop seromas (fluid-filled pockets that often need to be professionally drained or removed) or infections.

Another website, The National Library of Medicine, concluded that obesity can lead to greater complications or incidences of reoperation compared to non-obese patients, but these complications were only evident in breast-related operations such as breast reduction.

The last stitch

In previous posts, we’ve shared some ways to improve your health, from how to prepare your body for plastic surgery to defining visceral fat. We talked about ways to lower it to a healthy level. A healthy measure of visceral fat will also correlate to a healthy BMI, resulting in better surgical healing. As studies have shown, patients experience easier healing from breast augmentation or breast reduction with lower levels of fat. Remember, the higher your BMI, the greater risk of healing complications. Lowering your fat level prior to plastic surgery will help you heal more quickly and safely, maximizing your results and benefitting your boobies, your BBL and maybe even your bichectomy.

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