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Best Ways to Lose Weight before Surgery

Written By Joe Gryskiewicz, MD, FACS

Losing weight before surgery is an important step to improve surgical outcomes and reduce the risk of complications. Excess weight can increase the risk of anesthesia-related complications, surgical site infections, and other post-operative complications. Losing weight before surgery can improve the effectiveness of anesthesia and your overall health. In this blog, we will discuss the best ways to lose weight before surgery, including creating a plan, adopting healthy eating habits, exercising regularly, staying hydrated, and maintaining a positive mindset. We will also discuss the importance of BMI in weight loss before surgery and provide tips on how to lower BMI safely and effectively.

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With over 30 years of experience performing various plastic surgeries, Dr Joe Gryskiewicz is one of the most skilled and accomplished plastic surgeons in Minnesota, who can assist you in achieving your desired aesthetic results.

The Importance of Losing Weight before Surgery

Losing weight before surgery is important for several reasons:

What Happens If You Don’t Lose Weight

Not losing weight before surgery can increase the risk of complications during and after the surgery. Some of the risks associated with not losing weight before surgery include:

Understanding BMI

BMI stands for Body Mass Index, which is a measure of body fat based on a person’s weight and height. It is calculated by dividing a person’s weight in kilograms by their height in meters squared (BMI = weight in kg / (height in meters) ²).

BMI is a widely used screening tool to indicate whether a person has a healthy weight or is overweight or obese. A BMI below 18.5 is considered underweight, a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered a healthy weight, a BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight, and a BMI of 30 or above is considered obese.

However, it’s important to note that BMI is not always an accurate measure of body fat or health. It doesn’t take into account factors such as muscle mass, bone density, and body composition. For example, a person with a lot of muscle mass may have a high BMI but be in good health. Conversely, a person with a low BMI may have a high percentage of body fat and be at risk for health problems.

Therefore, BMI should be used as a screening tool and not as a definitive measure of health. It’s important to discuss BMI and other health measures with a healthcare provider to determine an appropriate weight loss plan and overall health goals.

BMI Weight Status
Below 18.5 Underweight
18.5 – 24.9 Normal weight
25 – 29.9 Overweight
30 – 34.9 Class I obesity
35 – 39.9 Class II obesity
Above 40 Class III obesity

To determine your BMI, you can use the following formula: BMI = weight in kilograms / (height in meters) ².

For example, if you weigh 70 kilograms and your height is 1.65 meters, your BMI would be calculated as follows:

BMI = 70 / (1.65) ² = 25.71

You can easily go online and search BMI tables and plug in your numbers in pounds and inches and come up with your personal calculation.

The Significance of BMI for Weight Loss before Surgery

BMI is a significant factor in weight loss before surgery because it provides a measure of body fat and an indication of the risk of complications during and after surgery. Losing weight and lowering BMI before surgery can reduce these risks and improve surgical outcomes.

Additionally, BMI can help determine an appropriate weight loss goal and timeline before surgery. A healthcare provider can use BMI to determine how much weight a patient needs to lose. BMI can also help determine a safe and effective rate of weight loss, which is important for preventing complications and maintaining overall health.

Step-By-Step Guide on How to Lose Weight before Surgery

1. Consult With a Healthcare Provider

Consulting with a healthcare provider is an important step in any weight loss journey, especially before surgery. A healthcare provider can provide guidance on effective weight loss methods, taking into account individual needs, lifestyle, and health conditions.

During a consultation, a healthcare provider may perform a physical exam, review medical history and medications, and discuss weight loss goals and expectations. Based on this information, the healthcare provider can provide recommendations on a safe and achievable weight loss goal, timeline, and plan.

The healthcare provider may also recommend specific dietary changes, such as reducing calorie intake or avoiding certain foods or food groups. They may also recommend specific types of exercise or physical activity based on individual needs and health conditions.

2. Set Realistic and Achievable Goals

Setting goals is important, here are some reasons why:

3. Monitor calorie intake

Monitoring calorie intake is an important aspect of losing weight before surgery. When you consume more calories than you burn, the excess calories are stored as fat, leading to weight gain. To lose weight, you need to create a calorie deficit by consuming fewer calories than you burn.

Monitoring calorie intake involves tracking the number of calories consumed each day and comparing it to the recommended daily calorie intake. This can be done using a food journal or a calorie tracking app. These tools allow you to record the types and quantities of food consumed, as well as the number of calories in each food item.

To monitor calorie intake effectively, it’s important to:

4. Eat a Healthy Diet

Eating a healthy diet is an important part of losing weight before surgery. A healthy diet provides the body with the nutrients it needs while promoting weight loss through a calorie deficit. Below are some suggestions for having a healthy diet:

Here are some examples of meals that follow a healthy diet:

5. Exercise Regularly

Regular exercise is an important part of losing weight before surgery. Exercise can help to burn calories, build muscle, and improve overall health and well-being. Here are some tips for exercising regularly:

Here are some examples of exercises that can help to promote weight loss and improve overall health:

6. Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated is an important part of losing weight before surgery. Drinking plenty of water can help to keep you feeling full and promote weight loss by increasing metabolism. Here are some tips for staying hydrated:

Here are some examples of how to stay hydrated throughout the day:

  1. Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning and before meals.
  2. Keep a water bottle with you throughout the day and sip on it regularly.
  3. Add fruit or herbs to your water to make it more flavorful.
  4. Drink water before, during, and after exercise to stay hydrated.
  5. Eat plenty of hydrating foods, such as watermelon or cucumber, throughout the day.

FAQs about Losing Weight

What is the fastest way to lose weight before surgery?

A Very Low-Calorie Diet (VLCD) is a weight loss diet that typically involves consuming between 800 and 1200 calories per day. VLCDs are designed to promote rapid weight loss by creating a significant calorie deficit. These diets often involve replacing meals with low-calorie shakes, soups, or bars, and may also include some whole foods. VLCDs are typically recommended for individuals who are severely obese or have significant weight-related health problems, such as type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure. They are typically used for short periods of time, ranging from a few weeks to a few months, and are supervised by a healthcare provider. While VLCDs can be effective for rapid weight loss, they are also associated with some potential risks and drawbacks. Some of these risks include nutrient deficiencies, gallstones, and dehydration. VLCDs can also be difficult to follow over the long term, leading to weight regain once the diet is discontinued.

Is it necessary to lose weight before surgery?

In some cases, losing weight before surgery may be necessary to reduce the risk of complications during and after surgery. For individuals who are overweight or obese, losing weight may help to improve surgical outcomes and reduce the risk of complications such as infections, blood clots, and anesthesia-related complications.

Can losing weight before surgery help improve surgical outcomes?

Yes, losing weight before surgery can help improve surgical outcomes. Studies have shown that obesity is associated with an increased risk of surgical complications, such as wound infections, pneumonia, and blood clots. In addition, obese individuals may have difficulty with anesthesia, longer hospital stays, and slower recovery times after surgery.

How much weight should I aim to lose before surgery?

The amount of weight you should aim to lose before surgery depends on individual factors such as starting weight, age, and health status. In general, a weight loss goal of 5-10% of body weight is often recommended before surgery, as this has been shown to improve surgical outcomes. For example, if an individual weighs 200 pounds, a weight loss goal of 10-20 pounds may be recommended before surgery. However, it’s important to note that the specific amount of weight loss needed to see improvements in surgical outcomes may vary depending on individual factors.

Further Reading about Body Procedures

Medical References about Losing Weight

This blog has been authored by “Dr. Joe” Gryskiewicz MD, FACS.

About Dr. Joe Gryskiewicz:

Dr. Joe Gryskiewicz is a board-certified plastic surgeon with over 30 years of experience performing aesthetic surgery. He is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and belongs to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, The Aesthetic Society, The Rhinoplasty Society, and many other national institutions.