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Who is not a good candidate for plastic surgery?

Plastic surgery can transform people’s appearances and boost their self-esteem. However, it’s not right for everyone. Certain health conditions and lifestyle factors can increase the risks and reduce the benefits of cosmetic procedures. Carefully considering your individual situation is crucial before pursuing plastic surgery.

Medical Conditions That May Disqualify Candidates

Several medical conditions may make someone a poor candidate for elective plastic surgery. Surgeons will evaluate patients’ health histories and often order lab tests before agreeing to operate. They want to ensure patients can safely tolerate anesthesia and the surgical procedure.

Uncontrolled Diabetes

Uncontrolled diabetes increases the risks of infection and poor wound healing after surgery. Plastic surgeons typically require diabetes patients to have an A1C level below 8 percent before operating. Bringing blood sugar under control at least several weeks before surgery can reduce risks.

Autoimmune Diseases

Some autoimmune diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis increase risks of surgical complications. They may interfere with wound healing and infection resistance. Plastic surgeons commonly ask patients with autoimmune disorders to have blood tests to evaluate their immune function before scheduling elective procedures.

Chronic Kidney Disease

Weakened kidney function impairs the body’s ability to eliminate anesthesia medications and control fluid balance during surgery. People with advanced kidney disease often need clearance from their nephrologists before plastic surgeons will operate.

Lung Disease

Obstructive lung diseases like emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) increase risks with anesthesia and the postoperative period. Surgeons may require lung function tests before clearing surgery for people with respiratory disorders.

Heart Disease

Serious heart conditions like poorly controlled heart failure, unstable angina, and arrhythmias increase the risks of surgery. Plastic surgeons may ask cardiologists to evaluate patients with significant heart disease before operating.

Bleeding Disorders

Problems with blood clotting from diseases like hemophilia or anticoagulant medications increase risks of excessive surgical bleeding. Surgeons may coordinate care with a hematologist to prepare a safe perioperative plan for patients prone to bleeding issues.

Lifestyle Factors That May Disqualify Candidates

Certain lifestyle factors may also impact plastic surgery eligibility. Surgeons aim to operate only on healthy, stable candidates to promote satisfactory outcomes.


Obesity increases risks of surgical complications like wound infections, poor healing, and anesthesia issues. Some plastic surgeons set BMI limits before agreeing to perform elective cosmetic procedures. Losing weight may be necessary for some obese candidates.


Smoking impairs wound healing and may lead to tissue death after plastic surgery. Most surgeons require patients to quit smoking for at least 4 to 6 weeks before and after their procedures. Continuing to smoke can lead to cancellation of scheduled surgeries.

Alcohol Abuse

Heavy alcohol use can impair wound healing, increase bleeding risks, and interfere with medication regimens after surgery. Plastic surgeons commonly require alcohol abusers entering treatment programs and demonstrating sobriety before operating.

Eating Disorders

Active eating disorders like anorexia nervosa and bulimia can complicate plastic surgery outcomes. Surgeons commonly require treatment and a healthy stable weight before performing elective cosmetic procedures on patients with eating disorders.

Body Dysmorphia

People with severe body dysmorphic disorder tend to have unrealistic expectations for plastic surgery outcomes. Surgeons may recommend counseling to help improve self-image before agreeing to operate on patients perceived to have body dysmorphia.

Surgical Risks in Unfit Candidates

Proceeding with plastic surgery when medical conditions or lifestyle factors make you high-risk can lead to serious complications.


Surgical site infections occur more often in people with diabetes and those who smoke. Infections can damage surgical results and require hospitalization for IV antibiotics or additional surgeries in severe cases.

Poor Wound Healing

Many medical conditions and lifestyle factors impair the body’s ability to heal after surgery. Poor wound healing can lead to visible scars, skin death, and abnormal surgical results requiring revision procedures.


Bleeding during or after surgery occurs more often in people with bleeding disorders, certain medications, liver disease, and alcohol abuse. It may require hospitalization, transfusions, and even emergency surgery to correct.

Blood Clots

Surgical patients immobilized during recovery are at increased risk for dangerous blood clots. Some medical conditions also increase clotting risks. Clots can break off and travel to the lungs, leading to life-threatening complications.

Poor Cosmetic Results

Even with technically perfect surgical technique, results may turn out poorly in unhealthy candidates. Factors like smoking, obesity, malnutrition, and poor wound healing can all negatively impact final cosmetic outcomes.

Preparing for Surgery

If you have medical issues or lifestyle factors making you high-risk, improving your health before surgery is crucial. Here are some tips:

  • Get chronic health conditions under optimal control before surgery
  • Lose weight if obese or malnutritioned
  • Quit smoking and stay smoke-free for at least 6 weeks
  • Abstain from alcohol for at least 4 weeks preoperatively
  • Eat a nutritious diet high in protein, vitamins, and minerals
  • Correct any nutritional deficiencies
  • Carefully follow your surgeon’s preoperative instructions

Preparing your body adequately before surgery gives you the best chance of smooth healing and satisfying cosmetic outcomes.

The Best Plastic Surgery Candidates

The most suitable candidates for plastic surgery are:

  • Non-smokers
  • Healthy stable weight
  • No major uncontrolled medical conditions
  • Realistic expectations for results
  • Positive attitude and outlook
  • Willingness to follow pre- and postoperative instructions

Carefully selecting appropriate patients helps plastic surgeons safely provide results that enhance appearances and quality of life.


While plastic surgery can provide tremendous benefits, it does carry risks. Surgeons aim to minimize risks and optimize results by carefully screening candidates. People with certain unstable medical conditions, high-risk lifestyles, and unrealistic expectations tend to be poor candidates for elective plastic surgery. Improving health status before pursuing a procedure can help reduce risks of complications.