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Why is it recommended to lose weight before surgery?

To improve the safety and effectiveness of metabolic and bariatric surgery, surgeons ask you to lose some weight before surgery. This does three things.

  1. Decreases the size of your liver. This makes it easier for the surgeon to operate.
  2. Makes laparoscopic surgery safer. It also makes it less likely to be converted to an open procedure. This is because the gas pumped into your abdomen not only holds up your skin so the surgeon can see but also pushes down on major blood vessels, which can reduce blood pressure. If this happens, the surgeon can’t pump in more gas, which reduces visibility. The less visibility, the higher the risk of complications. Therefore, people with a higher BMI may be asked to lose more weight before surgery.
  3. It can make it easier to lose weight after surgery. This varies for each person. In general, losing weight
    leads to a lower resting metabolic rate (the rate at which you burn calories at rest) and your body will burn fewer calories. Therefore, it can actually be easier to lose weight before surgery and use the surgery as a tool to help you lose and maintain more weight loss long term.

Overall, research has shown that weight loss before surgery may reduce complications after surgery.

Source: Anderin, C. (2017). Response to “Weight Loss Before Bariatric Surgery and Postoperative Complications”. Annals of surgery, 265(4), e55.

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