Female leg stepping on weigh scales. Healthy lifestyle, food and sport concept; blog: A Guide to Weight Loss and Joint Replacement Surgery

If you are overweight and thinking about having total knee or total hip replacement, your doctor may advise you to lose weight to prepare for surgery. Even if you feel fit and healthy, a BMI over 40 can cause issues during and after your procedure. While it can be difficult, getting help with losing weight before a total joint replacement can have many benefits. Weight loss and joint replacement can go hand in hand to help patients achieve the best outcomes possible. 

Benefits of Weight Loss and Joint Replacement Surgery 

When considering weight loss and joint replacement, it’s important to evaluate all the benefits of losing weight prior to surgery. Consult your doctor about 

Getting Healthier for Surgery

People with obesity are more likely to have other conditions that may make any surgery, including joint replacement, riskier. These conditions include:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Obstructive sleep apnea

Your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes like weight loss to try and delay the procedure. You may want to delay total joint replacement based on age or you might be waiting on insurance approval. Some people also seek alternatives to surgery because joint replacement is sometimes considered an elective procedure by some insurance providers.

Lower Chance of Complications During Surgery

Any surgery carries certain risks, but obesity can increase the risk of certain complications. These can include problems with:

  • Anesthesia: It is more difficult to administer anesthesia to someone with obesity. This may be due to the health conditions mentioned above as well as being able to access veins for general anesthesia. It is also more difficult to make sure that oxygen and airflow are sufficient for obese patients.
  • Operative Times: Performing surgery on a patient with obesity can pose technical challenges. This means that operative times are longer. And as a general rule, the longer you are in surgery, the greater your risk of experiencing complications.

Fewer Complications After Surgery

Another reason weight loss and joint replacement go hand-in-hand is that being at a healthy weight can decrease your chances of certain complications after surgery. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS), patients with obesity are more likely to have the following complications after surgery:

  • Infection
  • Blood clots
  • Pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lungs)
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Poor wound healing

Better Outcomes

Weight loss can help with the overall outcomes of total joint replacement surgery. People who are overweight or obese may not get the full benefit of joint replacement because it can hinder mobility and range of motion even after recovery from surgery. They may also experience complications like component loosening and failure. Replacement hip joints may also dislocate. This requires a second surgery known as “revision” to remove damaged implants and place new ones. Revision may be more complex than the initial joint replacement surgery.

Contact South Shore Orthopedics

The team at South Shore Orthopedics is home to a team of expert physicians who specialize in a wide range of orthopedic surgical specialties. All of our providers and staff members are committed to helping our patients live their most active lives. To schedule an appointment, call our office at (781) 337-5555 or complete this appointment request form.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, SSO’s priority is keeping our patients and staff healthy and safe. Our office continues to operate on a daily basis Monday – Friday from 8 am – 4 pm and we have implemented CDC recommended procedures regarding temperature checks, social distancing, and face coverings.