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Sports Medicine | Aug 5, 2019

Are you a candidate for joint surgery, especially hip or knee replacement? Losing excess weight before joint surgery is often advisable, especially when you’re looking into knee replacement. Here are three reasons why.

Excess weight can mean underlying health conditions

If you are very overweight or obese, your medical team may have reservations about doing surgery. If your BMI is over 30-40 or above, they may ask you to try losing some weight before surgery. This is for your own health and safety, because patients with obesity often have preexisting health conditions that increase the risks of surgery. 

If you are significantly overweight, and have any of these conditions, you might have a weight loss plan presented to you to help you drop pounds before surgery:

  • High blood pressure
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Metabolic syndrome (this is often a precursor to many of the other conditions listed above)

Being healthy before your surgery makes for the best outcomes and reduces your risks. Dr. Strasburger can look at your health history and list of medications and discuss the risks with you to make a sensible plan that keeps you safe.

Excess weight can increase your risk of complications during surgery

Every surgery comes with a degree of risk, but these risks can be greater for patients with obesity.

  • Anesthesia. Your anatomy can change with excess weight, making your breathing more difficult when lying flat for surgery. Locating your veins to administer general anesthesia and necessary medications can be harder, as can making sure you are getting the best airflow and oxygen levels. 
  • Operating times. Surgery on someone who has a lot of extra weight can take longer, due to having to work through excess layers of fat and deposits to see the area being worked on. The longer a surgery lasts, the higher the risk of a complication. 

Excess weight can compromise the results of your surgery

Every extra pound you carry puts greater weight on your hips and knees. This can:

  • Make it hard to get moving after surgery
  • Inhibit your physical therapy
  • Even cause failure of your new joint

In some cases, you may be somewhat overweight but the benefits to you of having your joint surgery done immediately will outweigh any increased risk. Dr. Strasburger will consider your case unique and explore all of your options to get you the safe surgery you need while looking out for your overall health.