Prehabiliation: Should I Lose Weight Before Hernia Surgery?

Hernia Info Authors

Did you know…Nearly 3 out of every 4 Americans over 20 years old are considered overweight or obese?1

If you’re overweight or obese and in need of hernia surgery, it’s important that you understand the effect a higher Body Mass Index (BMI), excess weight and/or obesity may have on your surgery.


About Body Mass Index

The Body Mass Index (BMI) is a calculation that uses your height and weight to estimate your body fat. The BMI calculation divides weight (in kilograms) by height (in meters squared). It is often used to help diagnose weight types and screen for certain health conditions. For most adults, the ideal BMI is between 18.5 to 24.9.2

Weight Type Ranges:
  • Underweight: Less than 18.5
  • Optimum: 18.5 to 24.9
  • Overweight: 25 to 29.9
  • Class I Obesity: 30 to 34.9
  • Class II Obesity: 35 to 39.9
  • Class III Obesity: More than 40

If your BMI is over 24.9, you can greatly reduce your risk for complications and improve your outcome post-hernia surgery by losing weight and reducing your BMI prior to surgery.4

The Importance of a Healthy BMI

Most of us know that our weight can have a positive or negative impact on our lives. By maintaining a healthy weight and normal Body Mass Index (BMI), you’re likely to have:3

  • Fewer joint and muscle pains
  • Increased energy
  • Better regulation of bodily fluids and blood pressure
  • Reduced burden to your heart and circulatory system
  • Better sleep
  • Reduced risk for heart disease and Type 2 Diabetes
  • Reduced risk of surgical complications4

Risks of Surgery in Overweight or Obese Patients1,4,5

While you may be aware of the common health risks that come with excess weight or obesity, have you ever considered how it can increase your risks of certain complications when going into hernia surgery? For example, a high BMI can increase the risk of:

  • Infection and poor wound healing
  • Blood clot(s)
  • Post-surgical hernia recurrence and need for additional surgery
  • Longer operating times and length of hospital stay

Benefits of Weight Loss Before Hernia Surgery

If you’re scheduled or are planning to schedule a hernia surgery, it’s important to talk to your doctor about whether pre-surgery weight loss can help your specific case. Losing weight may not only make hernia surgery easier, it can also help decrease postoperative complications, including pain.4,5

Before beginning a weight loss program, always talk to your doctor about ways to combine a healthy diet and moderate exercise to achieve the best results for you. 


The guidance provided in this article follows general rules that should be discussed with your doctor. This article is for informational and educational purposes only. It does not substitute for medical advice. If in doubt, always consult your doctor.

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