Minimising Risk: Losing weight before surgery  


Weight loss surgery is changing the lives of many people across Australia, especially those with severe obesity. Research has shown that losing weight before surgery can improve your chances of success and help you get back to your life sooner.  


Why losing weight is important prior to weight loss surgery 


Wound Healing  

A healthy flow of blood and oxygen is needed to help a wound heal. Excess fat can put too much pressure or tension on your blood vessels, limiting the amount of oxygen that reaches your wound – which delays healing time.  


Risk of infection 

If you have excess fatty tissue, your surgery could take longer and increase the risk of infection. You may need to take antibiotics or have another operation if an infection occurs. 



Excess fatty tissue can interfere with the effectiveness of medications used during surgery. Obese people are at higher risk of having problems with anaesthesia during surgery, because doctors may have a harder time finding veins that can be used to give you the drugs and other emergency medications. They may also have difficulty inserting a breathing tube (a clear plastic tube inserted into your windpipe during surgery so that the anaesthesiologist can administer oxygen).  


Cardiovascular risk 

Obesity puts an additional load on your heart, which can result in your heart needing to work harder. During surgery and anaesthesia, this added stress can result in an increased risk of a heart attack or angina (chest pain). 



The most efficient ways to lose weight fast prior to surgery 


There are many ways to lose weight before surgery. Here are some of the most effective: 


Drink water prior to having a meal 

Water helps you fill up your stomach and feel full without consuming any calories. If you drink water before having a meal, it will help you to eat less food. 


Smaller serving sizes 

Eating smaller serving sizes will prevent you from overeating and help you lose weight faster. Eating smaller portions will also help with portion control when it comes time for your surgery. 


Consume fibre rich food 

Fibre is an important part of any diet because it fills you up while keeping blood sugar levels steady, preventing spikes in hunger levels later on in the day. Include fibre-rich foods like beans, lentils, whole grains and vegetables in your meals as often as possible. 


Lower your sugar intake 

Sugar can cause inflammation in the body, which can lead to things like diabetes and heart disease over time if not controlled properly. Avoid processed foods as much as possible and try choosing natural sweeteners such as honey or maple syrup until your surgery date arrives so that your body is better prepared for what lies ahead. 


Regular exercise    

Exercise is strongly encouraged before and after weight loss surgery. Exercise helps strengthen your bones and muscles, reduces the risk of complications from surgery, increases overall health and encourages weight loss. 



Switch to a pre-op bariatric diet prior to surgery 


A week before your surgery, you will switch to a low sugar, low fat and high protein liquid diet. The benefits of this change are twofold:  

  1. It helps your body heal post-surgery. 
  2. It makes the procedure safer by reducing the size of the liver, so it’s easier to perform surgery. 


How much weight can you lose on a pre-op liquid diet?  

You can consult a dietitian to help you change your eating habits and lose weight before surgery. The amount of weight loss that’s recommended will depend on how overweight or obese you are, but it may be between 5% and 10% of your total body weight. 


What if I cheat on my pre-op diet?   

If you do not stick to the pre-operative diet plan, your liver will not shrink enough for a safe and simple surgery. Your surgeon would know within minutes if you have not followed the liquid diet requirements, because any food in your stomach or intestine can be detected by a laparoscopic camera. Having food present can leave you open to infection. 


How do I survive a liquid diet before bariatric surgery?   

Before you begin your weight loss pre-operative diet, get together with friends or family members who can help keep you on track and give you moral support. Learn everything there is to know about keeping your weight down – and staying that way! 

Most importantly, talk to your bariatric surgeon about struggles you may have with mental health or cravings while preparing for weight loss surgery. 


Find out more 

If you’re looking into undergoing weight loss surgery and want to find out more about pre-operative weight loss, get in touch with the team at Perth Obesity Solutions today.