Should I Lose Weight Before Hernia Surgery?

Excess Weight or Obesity carries significant risk going into any surgery especially surgery on your abdomen.
  • Increased risk of infection, blood clots, and cardiovascular events such as heart attack or stroke.
  • Excess weight or Obesity increases your risk of developing a ventral incisional hernia when undergoing any abdominal surgical procedure.
  • How do we define overweight or obesity?

    Overweight or obesity is common.

    Nearly 3 out of 4 people over 20 years old in the United States are overweight or obese.

    The BMI (Body mass index) is the best indicator of ideal body weight. For any given height, there is an ideal body weight.

    You can calculate your BMI here.
    man grabbing excess fat on abdominal area - image for article: should I lose weight before hernia surgery?

    Weight and Hernia Formation

    Elevated BMI and obesity don’t predispose to the development of most hernias (except after abdominal surgery).

    Elevated BMI and obesity do make all hernias and most likely umbilical hernia more complicated by increasing the size of the hernia. It also often contributes to increased pain and risk of emergent incarceration from a hernia.

    Overweight people that are living with a hernia will usually feel better after significant weight loss. This is because the pressure on the hernia from increased fat in the abdomen is lessened with weight loss.

    Is it possible to have hernia surgery if you are overweight?

    If you are planning to have your hernia repaired, excess weight or obesity is associated with a significantly higher risk of recurrent hernia, infection, and overall complications. In some cases, your weight may represent such a risk factor for hernia surgery that it is unsafe to undergo the procedure until weight loss is achieved. In some cases, people with BMI greater than 40, the risk of complications and even death is more significant than the risk of the hernia left untreated.

    How obesity affects hernia surgery outcomes

    Why is weight such an important variable in hernia surgery outcomes?

  • All data in hernia repair clearly proves the benefits of achieving close to ideal body weight prior to surgery. The data clearly shows a significantly higher risk of hernia recurrence and other complications among those that are overweight or obese.

  • The hernia is a hole in the muscular abdominal wall. The goal of hernia surgery is to close the hole with numerous techniques. Excess internal abdominal fat increases the pressure inside the abdominal cavity. This fat and increased intraabdominal pressure work against all the principles and techniques of hernia surgery. Trying to close the hernia hole under too much pressure clearly increases the risk of the repair being pushed back open (recurrent hernia). If the hernia repair is performed on a patient with too much internal fat and intraabdominal pressure, there can be other unwanted serious complications.

  • Despite the problems of hernia repair on patients with obesity, there is a trend of increased safety with robotic technology. By using less than 1-inch incisions, the risk of wound complications and infection are drastically reduced with robotic surgery.
  • Optimal BMI for Hernia Repair

    There is no true optimal BMI or weight for hernia repair. Every person and their hernias are different. The general rule is that the thinner one can become the more advantageous it is for a durable and safe repair. Generally speaking, a BMI of 18-25 would be ideal for any type of hernia surgical repair.

    Should you put off hernia surgery in order to lose weight?

    This is usually a good idea. A conversation with your surgeon will be necessary to answer this question. Sometimes the risks of delaying surgery are worse than the risks of weight related complications. Sometimes the risks of complications related to your weight warrants delaying hernia repair until an ideal body weight and BMI can be achieved.
    Most of us struggle with our weight to some degree. It is very difficult to lose weight but is possible if one has a plan.
    Losing weight is hard for everyone. It often seems especially difficult if you are extremely overweight and/or you have been struggling with your weight for most of your life. Many people consider weight loss impossible and often believe they eat very little but still gain weight. If you put more mind to it and formulate a plan, weight loss is always achievable.

    A real plan is necessary. One that involves attention to detail of everything that you eat. A plan to just eat smaller portions or avoid desert is destined for failure. A prescribed diet from your doctor or a dietician combined with an exercise plan will be necessary for success. Many people have had great success with programs such as “Weight Watchers” and apps on their phones such as “My Fitness Pal”. This is valuable as your phone is always with you and can give you information about your diet at any time and wherever you are.

    Dr. Yunis suggests the following in order to help you on your way to weight loss.

    Consider all the benefits of achieving an ideal body weight:
  • You will look and feel better.
  • Your feet, knees and hip joints will thank you.
  • Your risk for Diabetes will decrease and if you are diabetic, your blood sugar control will likely improve.
  • Your risk for metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease will be lowered.
  • Your ability to remain active as you age is enhanced greatly.
  • Why Choose Center for Hernia Repair

    Dr. Yunis and the team at Center for Hernia Repair care about your treatment and want you to receive the results you desire.

    We specialize in the treatment of hernias and prioritize your comfort and satisfaction.

    Contact us today if you have any questions or concerns regarding your weight and possible hernia surgery outcomes.

    Center for Hernia Repair

    1435 South Osprey Avenue
    Suite 201
    Sarasota, Florida 34239
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