What is the Best BMI for Liposuction vs Tummy Tuck?

Before you make the decision for any kind of plastic surgery, you want to make sure you’re a good candidate for that procedure. But how do you know if you’re a good candidate? One factor that cosmetic surgeons look at is BMI. In this article we will discuss how to calculate your BMI and how to use it to decide between two popular procedures: liposuction and tummy tuck.

If you’re ready to meet with a physician to discuss your fat removal options, please click the button below to schedule a consultation with a NuBody Concepts board-certified plastic surgeon in Nashville or Memphis. To learn more, read on!

First off it should be said that it doesn’t all hinge on your BMI. There are several factors a plastic surgeon will consider when evaluating a prospective patient. It would be misguided to base the decision on one single factor. During a consultation, the doctor will want to know if you’re generally in good health, whether you are a smoker or non-smoker, and what expectations you have about your outcome.

Non-smoking and good general health are always indicators for fewer complications during any kind of surgery, which of course is preferable. And your expectations are important so the surgeon can gauge whether you will be happy with the outcome. When a patient has unrealistic expectations that are impossible to achieve, undergoing surgery will only lead to frustration later.

However, looking at a person’s BMI is a good approximation to determine if – and which – cosmetic surgery is warranted.

Liposuction vs Tummy Tuck

Let’s start by looking at one of the main targets of cosmetic surgery: the abdomen. It just seems so hard to have a flat belly, and diet and exercise alone often don’t work. What does work is using cosmetic surgery to remove belly fat and/or excess skin. It can be best achieved with liposuction (which there are various techniques for) or with a tummy tuck. Which one is preferable?

Liposuction before and after picture of NuBody Concepts patient
NuBody Concepts patient after belly fat removal with liposuction. More Liposuction Before & Afters.
Tummy tuck before and after picture of NuBody Concepts patient
NuBody Concepts patient after belly fat removal with a tummy tuck. More Tummy Tuck Before & Afters.

In most cases, it comes down to which of the two you’re a better candidate for. Younger patients and women who haven’t gone through pregnancy and childbirth tend to have more elastic skin. This helps the skin shrink back once the fat is removed with liposuction. Older patients, patients who’ve experienced drastic weight loss, or women who’ve had one or more children tend to have saggier skin that won’t shrink back even when fat is removed. Such patients will need a tummy tuck to remove the excess skin.

A plastic surgeon can help you choose the right procedure after a personal evaluation. However, it can be frustrating to spend time and money on a consultation only to find out that you’re not a good candidate for what you have in mind.

How to Calculate Your BMI

One of the quickest ways to know whether liposuction or a tummy tuck is best for you is to calculate your Body Mass Index or BMI. Measuring the BMI is an easy screening method to categorize a person by weight, from underweight to healthy, overweight, and obese. It is a simple calculation based on your height and weight.

So what’s your BMI? Let’s find out!

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Guide to Using BMI To Select Best Cosmetic Surgery

You should know that BMI calculated in this way does not measure body fat directly. However, it has enough correlation with more direct measures of body fat that it can be a useful indicator. And the great news is that you didn’t have to see a plastic surgeon to figure it out. In fact, you didn’t even have to get up from the sofa!

And now, for the results.

If Your BMI Is Under 30:

Congratulations! If your BMI is below 30, you are a good candidate for any kind of cosmetic surgery. Again, this doesn’t mean a plastic surgeon will invite you into their OR sight unseen. He or she will still want to evaluate you personally to rule out possible complications based on health issues, medications, smoking, etc.

But generally, a BMI under 30 is good news. In addition, it is especially well suited for minimally-invasive procedures such as liposuction and skin tightening. With your BMI, you are likely to see good results from both procedures. Liposuction will take care of your extra fat pockets, and adding BodyTite will help you tighten that skin even more.

Liposuction before and after of NuBody Concepts patient
NuBody Concepts patient after belly fat removal with liposuction. More Liposuction Before & Afters.
BodyTite before and after picture of NuBody Concepts patient
NuBody Concepts patient with fat removal on belly, flanks and back with BodyTite. More Skin Tightening Before & Afters.

If Your BMI Is Between 30 and 40:

With a BMI between 30 and 40 you may still qualify for liposuction, but you are likely to see much better results from a tummy tuck. Your overall weight is still low enough that your’e not likely to experience too many complications during surgery. This is good news. But your weight is high enough to indicate that your abdominal skin has been stretched quite a bit. With those numbers, it is very likely that you will experience moderate to severe sagging after the belly fat has been removed. You might go down a pant size or two, but you won’t like the way your tummy looks.

Another route you could take is to first bring down your weight to get closer to your target weight, and then have liposuction. The Orbera Weight-Loss Balloon is an excellent option for this. It requires a little bit of time – 6 months, to be precise – but most patients see excellent long-term results from it.

Tummy tuck before and after picture of NuBody Concepts patient
Tummy Tuck patient. More Tummy Tuck Before & Afters.
Weight-loss balloon before and after picture of NuBody Concepts patient
Orbera weight-loss balloon patient. More Orbera Before & Afters.

If Your BMI Is Over 40:

Unfortunately, you are not an ideal candidate for either liposuction or a tummy tuck. In fact, most plastic surgeons are reluctant to take on patients with BMIs over 40 for any kind of procedure, due to the risk of complications discussed above. Even breast implant surgery could become more risky at such a high BMI.

What can you do? We advise patients with BMIs of over 40 to enroll in a weight loss program and contact us again when they’ve been able to get their BMI in the target range. However, we realize that not all patients are the same, and individual circumstances differ. If you are in a borderline range from 40 to 42, please contact us for a pre-screening. By asking a few more questions, our consultant can determine whether a meeting with a plastic surgeon is warranted.

We hope we’ve helped you understand how to calculate your BMI to get a better idea whether liposuction, a tummy tuck, or even a weight-loss balloon is the right procedure for you. Get started by scheduling a consultation with a plastic surgeon in Nashville or Memphis!


Each patient is unique. What your treatment will look like is determined by you and the plastic surgeon who you will meet with in a personal consultation.

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