You’ve discussed your options for treating your hip arthritis with your orthopedic surgeon and have decided to have hip replacement surgery. You have probably put a lot of thought into this decision, but it is the best choice to relieve your pain and get you back to an active life. You’ve received all of your pre-op instructions and you understand that adequately preparing for your surgery is an important first step in a successful recovery. Has your surgeon recommended that you lose weight before surgery? If so, this may not have been the first time a doctor has recommended weight loss to you, so what makes this time different? Why should you lose weight before hip replacement surgery? Well, there are a number of very good reasons, including preventing complications, speeding recovery, and avoiding future damage to all the joints of your body.
Preventing Complications and Speeding Recovery
Carrying too much extra weight not only causes health problems in general but can also lead to complications from surgery. Many of these complications are related to other illnesses associated with being overweight or obese. For example, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) all increase your risk during surgery. If you are diabetic and have abnormally high blood sugars, you are more likely to heal slowly and to have post-operative infections. On the other hand, hypertension, heart disease, and OSA can cause problems during surgery. Poorly controlled blood pressure or heart disease can lead to kidney and heart problems during or after surgery. People with OSA may have difficulty recovering from anesthesia and maintaining a good airway during the procedure could be challenging for your anesthesiologist. In other words, having extra weight can interfere with you getting adequate oxygen during and immediately after surgery. By losing weight before surgery, you may not be able to eliminate these other illnesses, but you could go a long way in controlling them. Your blood sugar and blood pressure will come closer to normal the more weight you lose. Weight loss will also improve your breathing and make getting the oxygen you need during surgery easier.
Other complications that you could avoid by losing weight before hip replacement surgery are more directly related to this particular type of surgery. Studies show that being overweight or obese results in more complications, longer hospital stays, poorer wound healing, more infections, the development of blood clots and more dislocations or instability of the new hip joint. What is most unfortunate, is that these complications can lead to a need for additional surgeries to revise the joint. Ultimately, hip replacement surgery is done to relieve pain, yet recovery can actually be more painful than it should be because of the excess weight. Being of normal weight for your height is ideal, but it is important to understand that any weight loss is better than none. In fact, it seems that the greater someone is overweight, the higher the risk for these complications.
Protecting Your Joints
As you move forward to your new pain-free, active life with your new hip joint, it is important to remember the role of being overweight plays in developing arthritis. Osteoarthritis or degenerative arthritis can be caused by injury, but it is generally the result of years of wear and tear on the joints that carry our weight. Therefore, being overweight can accelerate the development of arthritis. So, the added benefit of losing weight for your hip replacement surgery will be to protect not only your new joint but all the other joints that carry your weight.
Your Orthopedic Surgeon is On Your Side
It can be difficult to hear your doctor say that you should lose weight. In fact, you may have heard it before and have even tried to diet in the past. No one is saying it is easy. Your orthopedic surgeon is not judging you but is truly looking out for your best interest. They know the risks that excess weight can cause for hip replacement surgery, and they want to work with you to achieve the best outcome from your surgery. It may be recommended that you delay surgery to give you the time to lose weight. In any case, ask for recommendations for weight loss programs and strategies. You can also enlist the help of your primary care provider to get any other medical conditions, as well as your weight, under control before you have hip surgery.
If you are experiencing hip pain, considering hip replacement surgery or are suffering from any other injury, pain or problems with mobility, our friendly team is here to help. To seek the expert advice of Dr. Brett Gilbert who will address your unique concerns, contact us today by calling us at (919) 788-8797 or you can request an appointment with Dr. Gilbert using our appointment request form, or you can self-schedule your appointment here.