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Anyone Told to Lose Weight Before Anterior Fusion?

caitycccaityc Posts: 268
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:24 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Last November I was diagnosed with a massive (11mm) herniation at L5 S1. I was told at that time I needed a fusion. However, I was overweight. I was going to rush getting the 70+ pounds off. However, because of what the herniation was doing to the nerve, they decided to do a diskectomy. I was told I might not need the fusion after all, only time will tell. I had the surgery in January, felt better, and by April a lot of the old pain was back. He took an x-ray and told me the disk was 100% collapsed and surgery was a definite. By this time I had only lost 20 of the 75 pounds I needed to lose.
Basically, I am still only down 20 pounds, and my back is getting worse everyday. I just finished having a massive crying session. :''( "Poor me", the whole bit. Only you all know what it's like not being able to live a normal life. Watching how you get out of a chair, pain after putting 3 dishes in the dishwasher, not being able to trick or treat with your kids...... I am so tired of feeling like crap, and hurting all the time! You would think that this would be enough motivation to kick myself in the a** and lose the damn weight, huh? :?? Geesh! It's a viscous cycle. I eat cause I can't move, and I can't move cause I eat. BTW, I have tried every exercise out there, and it all caused pain.
So, if anyone of you have experienced my struggle, please let me know. ~X( Also, if any of you were overweight and had the surgery, I'd be interested to know. Not that it's going to change my docs mind, but I'm just curious. :)




  • Caity,

    A few days prior to my surgery I had the physical the hospital puts you through before you are operated on. I weighed 291 pounds. I am 6'2" but any way you slice it I was way overweight. I had been telling my surgeon I weighed 260. I wasn't knowingly lying, I just never got on a scale.The morning of my surgery, my surgeon said he wasn't happy about my weight and stressed to me how much stress being that much overweight put on my spine. Anyway, the surgery happened, I stayed inactive for 13 months and stayed overweight. Today, I weigh 230 (scale weight). I've lost 61 pounds all through walking. You can do it too, a little at a time.

    Emergency surgery in March of 2006 for spinal infection of L 2 and L 3. During surgery, discovered I had Cauda Equina Syndrome. Spine became unstable after surgery and had 360 fusion with 10 pedicle screws, plates and rods in April of 2007.
  • I really appreciate your answer. I know one day I will get there, but it really isn't easy.

    Congratulations on your weight loss! That is great!
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  • I have not even talked to my surgeon about weight loss yet. I need to go in and have my pre-op visit sometime soon. At this moment I am still waiting to find out when that will be. *sigh*

    But, I do know what it feels like to need to lose the weight. I am currently at 218. I am 5'10" (I used to be taller but the back problems have shrunken me). I would love to lose a good 40lbs to be at my heathly weight.

    I have lost 80lbs before on my own with no medications or "diet", I just decided that it needed to be done. I know that it is possible for me and for you. I also know that just like anything else, when we are truly ready for the change, it will happen.

    One Love,

  • Hi Caity, I lost 40 pounds prior to my PLIF(over 5 months). For me pain and pending surgery was a great motivator. I could not walk for exercise due to pain and limping. I joined the YMCA to use the therapy pool. The water really is the gentlist exercise out there. I did water walking, stretches, squats, leg lifts, bicycle on a noodle, etc. I even started feeling so much better I was able to swim and do water aerobics. Of course I watched my diet, trying to stick to around 1400 cal/day.

    By the time surgery came around I felt so much better from the pool therapy I almost changed my mind, but I had unstable pars fractures that had to be delt with, so went ahead with it. Now I am back at it with the pool and PT and have lost 8 more pounds. It is kinda funny cause my surgeon prefers to do ALIF, but said I would have to have PLIF, and I wondered if it were due to my weight (less fat on the back :))( ). But apparently it was more to do with the instability and needing to remove my loose lamina and spinous process that was wiggling all over the place.

    Have you tried something with a support group such as weight watchers? I have had success with it in the past and still use their point system. There is also a weight loss forum on here that you can join. I keep telling myself that the health of my spine is directly related to my weight and I have to keep it off for this surgery to be successful. I am still trying to loose about 35 more pounds. It also helps to read my history and physical where my NS described me as an "obese white female", and that was after 40 lbs off :(

    So keep trying, it is possible. Give yourself credit for the twenty pounds, that is great! Check into finding a warm pool. It doesn't feel like exercise, but it really does burn some calories. Good-luck >:D<
  • I'm about 40-50 lbs. overweight, but my surgeon didn't even mention it. I had the TLIF and am doing great! I know I need to lose the weight, but, like you, I couldn't do it before surgery because it hurt too bad to exercise. I can't do it now because of the surgery, except the walking. As soon as I am able (now have a Plantar Wart on my foot that makes even walking difficult), I will lose it. Before surgery (like a year before), I had a neuroma on my foot that made it impossible to walk. Finally had the surgery for that. Now, if I could just push away from the table, I should be able to lose it. I know that the older you get, the harder it is to lose the weight.

    Having the extra weight on does make a difference in recovery---it is very difficult to get out of a chair, roll over in the bed, roll out of the bed, etc., after the surgery. All in all though, I would say I did pretty good. And I'm 64-3/4, so you should be fine.

    You can do it! I know that once you put your mind to it, you will be able to! Just think of all the things you will miss out on when your back is better.
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  • I had a bilateral laminectomy on 6/10/2008 L1-S1 due to spondy, stenosis, bone spurs, arthritis. While my Dr was in there he also found that I had a fractured L5 vertebrae. I am 47 (almost 48) 5" 10" and weigh 354 pounds and the Dr will not operate on the fractured vertebrae until I loose 165 lbs. It is hard to walk or exercise which is exactly what I need to do in order to loose that much weight. Because the task of loosing weight is so great I eat because of depression. Like you said it is a vicious circle. My Dr wrote a letter to my insurance company with the hope they will approve a gastric bypass however they have rejected this type of requests because it is "cosmetic" surgery. :))( These insurance companies are a riot!

    One thing I have found that comforts me is prayer and doing the best I can. Although the world seems crashing I know that God does love me. He loves you too and one day the both of us will be able to loose the weight and have the corrective surgery we need for our backs.

    May God Bless you!
  • am overweight and tried really hard to loose some before I had surgery. I was going to the gym 5 days a week (mainly walking on the treadmill and doing exercises) and lost about 6kg in 5 months which was pretty depressing but I was a lot fitter so that was a bonus.
    My Dr did a PLIF which I assume was because of my weight. The Dr said that with "women like you" he would do PLIF so I think he was just being diplomatic. (gotta love him)
    Aqua fitness is really the best thing you can do for yourself as it is gentle. Do what you can and be gentle on yourself, you are not alone.

    Blessings Sara O:)
  • I lost 92 lbs 11 YEARS ago (the old fashioned way...hard work!!! Diet and exercise).....BEFORE I had back problems! Crazy that I have had more health issues SINCE losing the weight and keeping it off. So..I was normal weight when I had my surgery 12 weeks ago...but my cousin is around 400 lbs and around 5'9! He had the less invasive lumbar fusion. I could not belive that they did the surgery with him being so over wieght. I guess it depends on the doc.
  • I am also overweight, but none of the 3 surgeons I saw even mentioned it. One of them did recommend an ALIF. I know what you mean about it being hard to loose weight. I am working full time. By the time I have my hour commute home, try to help my hubby with dinner (which I pretty much can't do anymore), and spend some time with my DD I am absolutely exhausted. It is really hard.
  • I wasn't told to lose weight, but I lost 35 lbs before my surgery, unintentionally. I was a bit on the meaty side, I suppose you could say, but nothing enough to cause an issue. Now I'm healthy and pretty normal looking, and my pain level hadn't changed until after my fusion. I had Anterior/posterior, and it worked wonders.
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