Knee Replacements, Obesity and Weight Loss

US News & World Report—April 15, 2015

US News and World Report reporter Lisa Esposito writes that obesity puts excess pressure on weight-bearing joints, so heavier people are more likely to need joint replacement. But obese patients face more risk from surgery, and they get less improvement.

Demand is rising, though - especially for total knee replacement. Last June, a study found that among overweight patients, growth in the volume of total knee replacements "has far outpaced" that of total hip replacements, although the reason isn't certain, says study author Dr. Peter Derman, an orthopedic surgery resident at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.

Studies show obese patients who undergo total knee replacement have higher complication rates than normal-weight patients, and risk goes up with body mass index. That’s why heavier patients are often advised to lose weight before the operation.

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