Joint Replacement Can be Improved by Bariatric Surgery

April 7th, 2015

According to a presentation given at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons conference, 2 studies indicate that bariatric surgery before a joint replacement operation may substantially improve outcomes for patients. Although this is new research in the area of joint replacement specifically, we have seen previous research on the association between weight loss and reduced orthopedic problems.

When someone carries extra weight, the effect of that weight is multiplied with consideration to the joints. For example, every pound of weight exerts 3 – 6 pounds of pressure on the knees. Being overweight by just 50 pounds causes 200 – 300 pounds of extra pressure on your knees. A study called the Framingham study showed that overweight/obese women can reduce their risk of developing Osteoarthritis in their knees by losing weight. And that risk reduction is significant: the study showed more than a 50% reduction in risk of knee osteoarthritis for every 2 BMI points the women lost.

The new research presented at the Orthopedic Surgery conference showed that not only was bariatric surgery found to be beneficial, but it was also found to likely make sense financially. The study author said, “Our findings indicate that surgical weight loss prior to joint replacement is likely a cost-effective option from a public payer standpoint in order to improve outcomes in obese patients who are candidates for joint replacement… Some health care systems do not include weight loss surgery as a covered benefit, and it is possible that studies such as this will be helpful in re-evaluating whether weight loss surgery may be a reasonable covered benefit.” He added that, “Ideally, a team approach would be used to treat obese patients with hip and knee arthritis in which various health care professionals are in place to help a patient lose weight, improve his or her health, and optimize nutrition before joint replacement to maximize its benefits.” Since obesity can lead to longer stays in the hospital, and more surgical risk, there are multiple reasons to discuss concerns about extra weight and how that may affect your orthopedic conditions/treatment.

We are happy to answer any questions about how bariatric surgery may work in improving orthopedic conditions, and what your options are for treatment, either before or after seeing an orthopedic surgeon.

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