Can knee surgery lead to weight gain?

Can knee surgery lead to weight gain?

One of the best benefits for those who have knee-replacement surgery is the ability to get moving again. The operation gives many people the chance to walk, run and exercise in ways they couldn’t before the procedure.

So you might imagine that people with this new freedom would begin exercise programs that lead to fitness and weight loss. But recent research suggests the opposite.

The results of a five-year study found that patients who undergo knee replacement surgery “may be at a higher risk of gaining more weight than their peers who have not had the surgery,” according to researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Study leaders examined the medical records of nearly 1,000 knee-replacement surgery patients and discovered that 30 percent of the patients gained at least five percent or more of their body weight in the five years following the operation.

That’s compared to a group of people who didn’t have the surgery. Only 20 percent of those patients gained similar amounts of weight during the same time frame.

Researchers think there are two possible explanations to account for the weight gain.

Patients who are overweight or obese may lose significant weight in advance of the surgery as recommended by their doctor. Then after the operation, they return to their old eating patterns and put the weight back on.

The other possibility is that these patients have been dealing with chronic knee pain and have spent years avoiding activities and exercise that made the pain worse. For many, it might be difficult to imagine a lifestyle that includes regular exercise, study leaders said.

Dr. Mark Neault, an orthopedic surgeon at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Ill., says people who have reparative knee surgery should embrace their new lease on life.

“Knee surgery patients should take advantage of their new, pain-free, condition and get active,” he said. “Having this new found freedom allows them to experience all the health benefits that exercise can offer.”

Over the last 10 years, knee replacement surgeries have doubled, and nearly tripled in those between the ages of 45 to 64, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

During a knee replacement procedure, a surgeon removes damaged cartilage and bone from the surface of the patient’s knee joint and replaces them with an artificial surface of metal and plastic.

Dr. Lawrence Lieber, an orthopedic surgeon at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Ill., says there are immediate, positive results from the surgery in most cases.

“Knee replacement procedures are usually completed in an hour to an hour and a half,” Dr. Lieber says. “Patients can walk the day of surgery with some assistance and typically drive in two weeks. Physical therapy usually lasts two to three months. After a total knee replacement, patients are back to all their activities two to three months later.”

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  1. I have been googling for some sense to this circumstance. I had a total knee replacement. I was 2015 prior to February surgery, 215 a month later and now am 230. I started riding outdoors after 5 weeks, and am averaging 90 to 120 miles a week. I don’t believe I have changed my eating habits, but I can not lose weight.

    I know the drugs really played heck with my body. My skin was terrible for example.

    I’m 60. I find the idea that its because we can’t imagine exercise as a laugher. I rode up until the last week. I am exercising and building strength since the surgery. There is something else going on here.

  2. I’ve had both knees replaced, the latest was august 28, 2008. at that time I was about 207 pounds,by december 2009 I was around 250. II have done exercises burning up to as much as 1200 calories a day. I have cut out bad eating habits and i’m always on the go but the most i can ever lose is 15 pounds. this problem with the weight started after my left knee was done and I have always had trouble with the knee , but my ortho doctor says every thing is in good shape.But i believe as a general rule if on any thing that you work on and something goes wrong with what you worked on, then you have to go back to that point. It is very disturbing knowing that no one seems to care.

  3. I had both knees replaced in 2015. I put on five pounds with each knee. In hindsight, I wish I had consulted a nutritionist before surgery to get a food plan. I am a compulsive overeater and overeat to deal with feelings. A 12 step program has helped me but it went by the wayside after surgery. I only have 10 pounds to lose and am consulting a nutritionist next month for advice on food choices and portions.

  4. Did the research dig into what exactly weighted more in the body as in fat, muscle mass, even bone mass for that matter. As one regains mobility, is it not likely that the weight gain is due to the muscles that are put back to work , that were getting wasted earlier. Not all weight gain is unhealthy so it would have been better if there was information about bad weight gain or good weight gain.

  5. Marlynn waldroupe May 15, 2018 at 3:27 pm · Reply

    I had worked real hard to loose 100 lbs because I needed to and I needed knee sugery. So after a year and a half and my eye Dr saying no more storied shots ( I had glacoma ) I decided to bite the bullet did my right knee first. Well its been 3 months now and no weight gain I still do daily walks about 2 blocks because all my joints are bad so that’s as far as I can go but I ride a stationary bike 10min 2x a day iv now scheduled my other knee for Aug. So we will see if what I’m doing keeps the weight off. I do just a low carb diet

  6. I am not obese. I weighed 140 when I had my surgery 3 days ago. I am active as I can be. Not eating much because appetite isn’t there yet. I gained 6 lbs! Is it fluid?

  7. I have the same issues as Josie. Had a partial knee done Friday & have a 4 lb weight gain. All I’ve eaten is yogurt, cottage cheese, soup/crackers & not a lot of it. What’s going on?

  8. I weighed 201 on the day of surgery, of course I did not eat after midnight, I ate four peanut butter and cheese crackers and two Oreos and a glass of juice to come home. I did not eat anything when I came home, the next day I did not eat all day because I wasn’t hungry. That night I had a baked potato and some lean tri-tip. The next morning I weighed 207. Does the weight of the replacement parts make you gain weight?

  9. I weighed 173 before surgery. I didn’t eat anything but a fruit bowl and scrambled eggs at the hospital. I came home and ate very little. On day three, I was 176. Today, I am 181 and have eaten very healthy not binging and only two meals a day with snack of fruits. It’s very depressing. Before surgery, it would have taken two weeks of vacation of eating like crazy to have gained 5 pounds. I don’t know what’s going on!

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.