If you’re anticipating spine surgery, we’re here to tell you that the success of your procedure isn’t entirely dependent on your surgeon. You play a part.

That’s especially true when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight.  If you’re overweight, we’re sure you’ve already been told that you’ll need to reduce before your surgery.

The process doesn’t have to be a burden. It can lead to a new, healthier lifestyle that enhances the effects of your surgery. But there are more serious considerations concerning the importance of weight control before spine surgery.

Surgical Success Rates

A recent study has revealed what most of us probably already suspect – overweight patients don’t enjoy the same surgical success rates as patients of normal weight undergoing the same procedures.

For example, 32% of overweight patients undergoing spine surgery encountered complications.  Those who were substantially overweight had an almost 80% complication rate.  These are sobering statistics that point to a direct correlation between excessive weight and problems encountered during and after spinal procedures.

Infection Rates

Controlling or reducing your weight before surgery can also significantly reduce the risk of infection. Overweight patients encountered twice the incision infection rate than patients of normal weight, and that rate doubled in significantly overweight patients.

Related was the rate at which overweight patients experienced the incision site re-opening.  These patients suffered their incisions re-opening 2.5 times more often than patients of normal weight.

Re-admission, Delayed Recovery, & Costs

Surgery is enough of a life event without having to relive it, so this one will most likely get your attention.  Overweight patients experienced a much higher rate of re-admission to hospital following their surgery within only 30 days.  They also spent more time in a hospital than patients of normal weight.

There’s even worse news for people who are significantly overweight. The cost of their surgery and recovery was higher by an average of $8,000.

What You Can Do

We know you’re having spine surgery because you’re in pain but talk to your surgeon about ways you can prepare for your procedure.  He or she can suggest moderate exercise to prepare your body and help you maintain or reduce weight. Swimming or walking (even with a mobility aid like a walker) can greatly help.  Gentle exercise will also build up your muscles and immunity.

Further, your surgeon will happily advise you about proper nutrition before surgery.

Can you live without some of the empty calories modern life is so full of?  Reducing your intake of fried foods, fast foods, overly processed foods, and soft drinks will help you keep your weight down and even reduce it before undergoing spine surgery.

Key Takeaways

Your weight can adversely affect your surgical outcome.  It can cost you money, lead to infection, and delay your recovery.  All these potential consequences are compelling factors pointing to weight control’s importance before spine surgery.


1. Why is weight control important before spine surgery?

Weight control before spine surgery is crucial because excess weight can increase the risk of complications during and after the procedure. By achieving a healthy weight, patients can optimize their surgical outcomes and reduce the likelihood of postoperative complications.

2. How does excess weight affect spine surgery?

Excess weight can place added stress on the spine and surrounding structures, making surgical procedures more challenging and increasing the risk of complications such as infection, blood loss, and impaired wound healing. Additionally, obesity is associated with higher rates of surgical site infections and delayed recovery times.

3. What are the benefits of weight loss before spine surgery?

Weight loss before spine surgery can improve surgical outcomes by reducing intraoperative complications, enhancing wound healing, and promoting faster recovery. Losing weight can also help alleviate symptoms associated with spinal conditions such as back pain and sciatica, improving overall quality of life.

4. How much weight should I aim to lose before spine surgery?

The amount of weight to lose before spine surgery depends on individual factors such as body mass index (BMI), overall health, and the specific requirements of the surgical procedure. Your surgeon or healthcare provider can provide personalized recommendations based on your unique circumstances.

5. What are some strategies for weight control before spine surgery?

Strategies for weight control before spine surgery may include adopting a balanced diet, increasing physical activity, and working with a healthcare provider or nutritionist to develop a personalized weight loss plan. In some cases, bariatric surgery or medical weight management programs may be recommended to achieve significant weight loss before surgery.