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Losing Weight Before Joint Replacement Surgery

Losing weight before joint replacement surgery can be challenging. Has your orthopedic surgeon advised you to lose weight prior to a joint replacement surgery? Have they given you a goal for lowering your body mass index (BMI)?

Everyone has a different story when it comes to weight, and it never comes down to just a number on a scale. At Sauk Prairie Healthcare, we know weight loss can be difficult for many reasons and it is not a journey you have to travel alone.

Everyone’s barriers to losing weight are different, and for that reason, everyone should take a different approach to weight loss. No one solution is ever going to work for everyone, and it can be overwhelming to try to pick what to do first, or what is going to work best.

Why did my surgeon recommend I lose weight?

Our team is very motivated to help you lead the active lifestyle you want, because moving is tremendously beneficial to your health. When movement is impaired, your health suffers in a variety of ways. When your surgeon recommends losing weight prior to surgery, it is to get your body ready to take on the stress of surgery, recover well after surgery, and get you moving again. We want you to be able to use your replacement joint to its fullest potential, avoid follow-up surgeries, and increase the lifetime of your new joint.

How do I start losing weight?

Weight may be something that you have focused quite a bit on in the past, or it may be a very recent target highlighted by your surgical team. An important first step is to define your goal.

Ask “what is it that I am trying to achieve?” before taking the steps of determining how to get there. If you do not have a clearly defined weight goal, weight loss becomes much harder to achieve. Here are some examples of clearly defined weight goals:

  • Reduce your weight by 20 pounds prior to surgery
  • Lower your BMI to less than 40 prior to surgery

If you have questions about setting an appropriate and safe weight goal prior to surgery, contact your surgeon’s office.

How can I be successful in reaching my weight loss goals?

Once your weight loss goal is defined, you can start to map out what the path will look like. Answering these questions helps you to set the plan that you can hold yourself accountable to before you start your journey:

  • When will I start my weight loss journey?
  • What is an appropriate rate of weight loss?
  • What first steps could I take?

When will I start my weight loss journey?

It is important to consider your weight loss journey timeline so you can set yourself up for success when pursuing a weight loss goal. Take a look at your calendar. Do you have a wedding, vacation, or special event involving food coming up that could disrupt your meal plan and discourage your early weight loss efforts? Are you researching meal services or recipes and need time to prepare a meal plan? Giving yourself a realistic start date to begin losing weight can help you prepare your timeline and make a big difference in the early stages.

What is an appropriate rate of weight loss?

Sauk Prairie Healthcare, like many other healthcare institutions, recommends a weight loss goal of approximately one to two pounds per week until your final goal is achieved. This rate of weight loss has been shown to result in sustained weight loss.

What first steps could I take?

Every first, second, and third step toward weight loss will be different for each person. If you are struggling with where to begin, it may be because there are a lot of weight loss strategies available.

At Sauk Prairie Healthcare, when discussing weight loss, we focus on the foods we eat and how much we move. This is for a variety of reasons, but primarily because the behaviors we have related to eating and movement impact our health in a range of ways well beyond the number on the scale. However, it is not uncommon for us to get questions about the many diets, specific workout regimens, medications, and supplements that exist and are promoted as assisting with weight loss.

What is BMI and why does it matter to my joint replacement surgical team?

BMI measures your height-to-weight ratio.

BMI = Weight (Kg) / Height (meters squared)

BMI is a screening tool clinicians use to try to identify patients who may benefit from weight loss prior to surgery. It is NOT a measure of body fat. BMI alone is not considered a strong indicator of health, but rather a starting point for discussion with your healthcare team.

BMI is not the only indicator of a need for weight loss prior to surgery. Your surgical team can help to determine if there are BMI or weight-related goals that you can achieve to help prepare your body for surgery and recovery.

Weight Loss Support at Sauk Prairie Healthcare

If you have questions about losing weight in preparation for joint replacement surgery, please contact our Nutrition Counseling team. Our Registered Dietitian Nutritionists can help.