How Your Weight Can Influence the Formation of a Hernia

Most of us know that our weight can have a positive or negative impact in our lives.

Being overweight brings with it a higher chance of developing a number of health issues including cardiovascular problems, high blood pressure, and Type 2 Diabetes. While you may be aware of these common health risks, have you ever considered how your excess weight may be putting you at risk for a hernia?

Formation of a Hernia

Hernias occur when an organ pushes through a muscle or other weak tissue. This type of injury occurs most frequently in the abdominal area. The hernia becomes a visible bulge that can cause pain when straining or even while coughing. This bulge can continue to grow over time and eventually may need surgery in order to repair the weakened tissues and prevent the internal organs from further protrusion or possible strangulation.

There are multiple reasons for the formation of a hernia including:

  • Smoking
  • A persistent cough
  • Straining to have  bowel movements
  • Lifting heavy items
  • A weakness near a previous surgical incision or scar
  • Enlarged prostate

Another critically influential factor to consider with the potential development of a hernia is, of course, being overweight or obese.

Person weighing themselvesThe Importance of Your BMI

Obesity is a risk factor for developing a hernia because it increases the strain and pressure on the abdominal muscles, therefore making them weaker and more prone to a hernia. As time passes the hernia can grow larger and become dangerous in certain circumstances. So, how do you know if you are considered obese?

BMI is the calculation of your body mass index. The number is based on factors like height, age, weight, sex, muscle fat, and body shape. The number determines if you are underweight, at a healthy weight, overweight, obese, or morbidly obese.  You can calculate your own approximate BMI by computing it on the NILBI website. You can utilize this tool to determine how many pounds you may need to lose to achieve a healthy BMI.

Unnecessary Complications

If you are overweight, obese, or morbidly obese and need hernia surgery in the near future, you risk a recurrence of the hernia and a second surgery. There is a higher rate of infection and poor wound healing, the actual surgery can take longer, and you most likely will spend more time in the hospital to recover. Most importantly, you risk the development of a blood clot in the leg traveling to the lungs, which is a life-threatening condition known as a pulmonary embolism (PE).

Losing some weight can not only make a hernia surgery easier, but losing those pounds will also decrease postoperative complications.  

It is recommended that anyone who needs hernia surgery begin losing weight prior to surgery in order to reach a more healthy weight and BMI between 18.5 and 24.9. Talk to your hernia surgeon about how much you should lose prior to doing surgery.

Losing Weight the Healthy Way

In order to get to a healthy weight, you should drop the pounds in a healthy way.

Start with the combination of a healthy diet and moderate exercise. Eat less calories than your body uses for energy. Reduce high fat foods, sugar consumption, and alcohol, and talk to a specialist at Michigan Hernia Surgery about a healthy weight loss program designed for you.

It is never too late to improve your BMI and live a healthier life!