5 Main Reasons For Weight Gain After Surgery May 7, 2015

While most of us end up complaining about our weight gain, the tipping scales are a bigger concern for those who have recently had any kind of a surgery. There are many reasons that can lead to sudden or eventual weight gain, but one major factor that plays a big role in upping your kilo count is a recent surgery.

Immediate weight gain after surgery is, in fact, more common than any other complication that might arise post-surgery. This weight gain often occurs in the follow up period. One of the biggest examples of such a weight gain is post-pregnancy weight gain, in cases where the delivery occurs with the help of a C-section. In such cases, about 80% of women suffer from significant weight gain after pregnancy. Other than such complex surgeries, even minor surgeries like tonsillectomy can lead to weight gain.

Main Problems Leading to Weight Gain After Surgery:

1. Fluid Retention:

One major cause of weight gain is fluid retention in the body after surgery. The medical term for such retention is edema. Water is retained in the interstitial space in your body – the spaces between your organs. This leads to weight gain and the typical post-surgery bloated look. The fluid retention may be localized; for example, some patients have swollen feet and hands. It may be generalized too, which results in an overall plumper appearance.

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2. Trauma:

During surgery, the body tissues undergo a lot of trauma. This causes inflammation, which leads to fluid retention as well. If the surgery was due to some accident, the chances of fluid retention are even higher. So the minimally invasive surgeries are less likely to cause weight gain because lesser trauma is inflicted on the body.

3. Stress:

Stress triggers a plethora of hormonal imbalances in the body, which are responsible for excessive fluid retention. Surgery related stress results in high levels of anti-diuretic hormone, or ADH, which makes the kidneys conserve the body’s water. This leads to unseemly weight gain too. Apart from that, after surgery, the patient has a mix of drugs raging through their systems to deal with post-surgery complications. The fluid shifts caused by these intravenous drugs can also cause water retention.

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4. Stagnation:

After surgery, patients are most likely to do very little work or physical activity. This is counterproductive to the patients’ health because it leads to weight gain. Once the recovery period is over, patients are often encouraged by their doctors to do some mild exercises that will ward off excess weight and also fight off post-surgery depression.

5. Comfort Food:

This is another vice that most patients fall victim to. After all you have been through, it may seem like there is no better time to pamper yourself a little. This comfort food factor is what causes weight gain after surgery. The post-surgery blues are another reason patients grow overindulgent with comfort foods and end up regretting those extra calories later.

{ Read: Reasons For Gaining Weight }

How to Minimize this Weight Gain:

Gaining weight after surgery is, to some extent, normal. But that is only as long as you don’t gain more than 5 to 6 pounds in one week.

  • If a patient gains weight more rapidly, they must seek medical attention. Typically, a patient’s appetite is weak after surgery and it may take a week or more to get back their normal appetite. However, it is crucial not to stop eating or worse, to eat unhealthy ‘appetizing’ foods. Having high calorie comfort food should be kept to a minimum.
  • Apart from that, light exercising is also recommended. Even those who have had surgery on their lower body can do some stretching to keep fit.
  • Above all, drinking plenty of water is a must. As paradoxical as it sounds, drinking plenty of water would prevent water retention. This is simply because having an ample supply of fluid in your body sends the signal to the kidney to stop conserving it.

Be it post-partum blues or a mere case of tonsillectomy, there are a lot of reasons why you may gain weight after surgery. But with precaution and proper care, it is easy to shed those extra kilos in no time at all.

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