Obesity and Orthopedics: Primary Interventions of Orthopedic Surgeons

Recent medical studies confirm that a definite link between obesity and orthopedic surgery exists. The said link reiterates that obese people tend to need orthopedic surgery more often because of the stress that their body weight puts on their joints, muscles, and bones. While they are identifiable candidates for this surgical intervention, many orthopedic surgeons in Denver and elsewhere request that obese patients have an ideal body weight prior to surgery.


Orthopedic Surgery on Overweight Patients

At first glance it may seem overly harsh to refuse a patient surgery simply because of his or her weight. After all, this person is in pain and cannot move properly because of compromised bone, joint, or muscle health. However, an orthopedic surgeon in Denver or other areas are limited on the amount of health services or treatment they can offer obese patients by healthcare insurers and by the recommended standards of their industry. They argue that health insurers will refuse to cover costs of surgery because of the increased risk for complications and repeat surgery in the future. They also argue that obese patients are more difficult to operate on because of their size.

These arguments may seem unfair, but they are also recognizable truths in the orthopedic surgical industry. People who are obese and have high body mass indexes (BMIs) are at risk of post-operative complications like stroke, heart attack, and blood clot formation.

More noticeably, however, is the fact that people who are obese risk damaging the results achieved by their surgery. For example, an obese person who undergoes knee replacement surgery could easily damage the new knee if he or she remains overweight. This person’s body weight will, in essence, render the same level of damage to his or her surgically repaired joint. Doctors see no sense in operating on a person who is at risk of having to undergo the same surgery in a matter of months or even a few years.

As such, people who are above their recommended BMI and weight are advised to lose weight first and then undergo the surgery they need to repair their bones, muscle, or joints. They will enjoy a higher rate of post-op success and also experience less pain and fewer complications after their surgery.

Study: Researchers Discover Association Between Obesity And Increased Rates Of Lower-Extremity Injuries, Orthopedic Surgery, CBSLocal.com, December 18, 2015
Knee Replacements, Obesity and Weight Loss, U.S. News Health, April 15, 2015