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The Value of Preoperative Weight Loss
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The Value of Preoperative Weight Loss

By Kelly Springer, RD


Many insurance companies require a five percent weight loss prior to surgery. Many patients are frustrated by this prerequisite and do not understand the reason for the requirement. But there are two important reasons for losing weight prior to surgery.


The most important reason for the weight loss is that it makes surgery safer for the patient and easier for the surgeon. It is often true that a patient with a Body Mass Index over 35 has an enlarged or fatty liver. With excessive intake of carbohydrates over the years, the body cannot use all the nutrients and stores the end products as glycogen in their liver. The five percent reduction in weight decreases the size of the liver, getting it out of the way of the surgeon’s tools. This decreases complications during and after surgery.


The second reason for this requirement is to increase the likelihood of long-term success. Use this time to embrace new ideas to develop healthier habits. Research shows the more you practice behavior modifications before your surgery, the more likely you will be compliant after surgery. Each month, focus on a new behavior such as chewing twenty times per bite, not drinking during or 30 minutes after meals, eating a protein source at the meal first, followed by vegetables and limited non-complex carbohydrates. New research shows that preoperative weight loss results in greater total postoperative weight loss.


In conclusion, preoperative weight loss benefits the patient and should be taken seriously. It will keep the patient safer and increase the rate of success.