When we lose weight, we not only lose fat but muscle, too. That's true whether the weight loss was intentional (say, you went on a diet) or unintentional (in the case of illness or appetite loss after surgery).
Muscle loss lowers your "reserves" for recovery after your procedure. It raises your risk of complications and lengthens the amount of time you're likely to stay in the hospital. Weak muscles make it harder for you to get back to your usual routine and favorite activities after surgery. The bottom line is: it's important to lose as little muscle as possible before, and after, your surgery.
Unintentional Weight Loss
If you've been losing weight recently without trying, you've probably already lost some muscle mass. Prior to your surgery, it's important for you to try and stop the weight loss and even re-build some muscle, if you can. Speaking with a dietitian can help you maximize your nutritional status before surgery.
Intentional Weight Loss
If you're overweight or obese, losing some weight before your surgery is a healthy thing to do. It lowers your risk of complications, including infection. But it's important to shed those extra pounds as fat, and not muscle. We explain how below.
Minimizing Muscle Mass Loss
Whether your weight loss is desired or unintentional, you can minimize muscle loss by:
- Adding more physical activity to your day. That old "use it or lose it" saying holds true: Using your muscles keeps you from losing them during weight loss.
- Eating plenty of -- but not too much -- protein
- Eating a varied and healthful diet, before and after your surgery