Advertisement

What should I be aware of if I am overweight and need abdominal surgery?

Anthony L. Komaroff, MD
Internal Medicine
We all have a fair amount of fatty tissue in our abdominal cavities that surgeons must deal with during abdominal operations. The more fat you have, the more difficult the operation is for the surgeon. Excessive fatty tissue impairs access to the surgical site. It can also make the surgery itself—the cutting of tissue—more complex. Operations on obese patients tend to take longer for these and other reasons.

On the other hand, some studies have shown that surgical outcomes may be better for patients who are overweight. Extra fat may be a bit of physiological buffer against the trauma of surgery. And being underweight is definitely a problem for surgical patients if they've lost weight because of cancer or malnutrition.

But your general health matters more than whether you are carrying a few extra pounds. Diabetes, kidney problems, lung and heart disease—they can all make surgery more risky.

Continue Learning about Obesity

Global Epidemic: More People Obese Than Underweight
Global Epidemic: More People Obese Than Underweight
It’s not news that obesity is a national problem, but a study published in The Lancet reveals it’s a global problem too. For the first time in history...
Read More
What are the characteristics of weight regainers?
Judy CaplanJudy Caplan
The biggest challenge after losing weight is not to regain it. Keeping lost pounds off is difficult ...
More Answers
What are common questions a family doctor gets from both men and women?
Univ. of Nev. School of Medicine, Family MedicineUniv. of Nev. School of Medicine, Family Medicine
Patients frequently ask family doctors questions related to improving their overall health. It's com...
More Answers
What Is the Most Critical Medical Issue Americans Face?
What Is the Most Critical Medical Issue Americans Face?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.