A 2016 study suggests that a person who is morbidly obese with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of more than 40* would benefit from weight loss, and should start losing weight as much as two years before their knee or hip joint replacement.
*(BMI is calculated using your height and weight. A person 6 feet tall and weighing 295 pounds would be considered “morbidly obese,” about 100 pounds overweight and in danger of developing diabetes and coronary artery disease. To determine your BMI, click here.
“Studies have shown that severely overweight patients having elective surgery are nearly 12 times more likely to suffer from complications than patients in a normal weight range,” says Orthopedic Specialist Barry Clark, DO. “Weight loss could help reduce the chance of complications during knee or hip joint replacement surgery and increase the functionality of the new joint after the procedure. Yet, an obese person who sees an Orthopedic Specialist for joint replacement may already experience severely limited mobility and pain to a degree that they cannot wait two years.”
WHAT’S A PERSON TO DO?
For someone considering lower extremity joint replacement, how will excess weight affect you before, during and after your surgery?-
Before: We know that excess weight puts more strain on your lower body joints. As a result, obesity certainly causes excess wear and tear on the cartilage and bone in the joint, increasing your risk of osteoarthritis, one of the main causes of the need for joint replacement. Discuss with your family physician weight loss strategies which could include lifestyle change, nutritional consultation, medication and even surgical assistance.
The Procedure: Some studies suggest that excess weight will increase the risk of infection, poor wound healing, or a blood clot. However, other studies show no increased risk for the obese person in these areas. Improvements in pain control, anesthesia and postoperative medications reduce the overall risk of these complications.
After Your Surgery: Excess weight that may have played a role in creating your need for a joint replacement can also have negative consequences for your life after surgery.
ACTIONS YOU CAN TAKE AFTER YOUR SURGERY:
For a healthier life overall, reducing wear and tear on your joints and helping maintain your quality of life after joint replacement, follow these tips:
Are you having difficulty walking, climbing stairs, playing golf, or having fun on the floor with your grandkids? See an Orthopedic Specialist for an evaluation of your knee or hip joints. There are a series of nonsurgical treatment options you can try before total joint replacement is needed.
Sources include: McLeod Health, American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, Bone & Joint Journal (UK), Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, Annals of Rheumatic Diseases, Journal of Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, European Federation of National Associations of Orthopaedics & Traumatology