Surgery being performed on a properly prepped patient

Lower Risks of Surgery With Pre-surgery Diet

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, but you can read the post here.


Although some surgical procedures are called “elective,” I have a hard time believing anyone ever really elects to have their body cut open so repairs can be made inside. What people are really choosing is when to have their surgery. No matter when you schedule it, it’s still pretty scary.

Even if you pick a date and get through the procedure, the risks of surgery don’t end when you’re all stitched up. The chances of an infection after surgery and other post-operative complications, such as hemorrhaging, blood clots, and pain, are very high.

Knowing how to reduce those complications is definitely an option I would elect. And a new study suggests that our pre-surgery diet may hold the key to a better recovery.

Reducing Surgical Stress

As important as surgery is to repairing the body, it is also a form of trauma. The more surgeons know about how to minimize surgical trauma, the better the recovery process is for their patients. Most of their attention has been focused on protecting vital organs and blood vessels, but now scientists are looking at how fat responds to stress.

Fat is a major component of the body and contrary to popular opinion, is viable, active tissue. Cutting through it during surgery is a source of trauma, or stress. Early evidence suggests that the trauma to fatty tissue in the body results in a change in the chemical balance of our fat cells that can negatively impact recovery time after surgery.

The Pre-Surgical Diet

In a study using mice, researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston found surgical trauma rapidly affected the fat tissues located both close to and distant from the surgical site. By changing the diets of the mice before surgery, they were able to affect inflammation, infection and wound healing in the mice.

A high fat diet before surgery produced the worst outcomes, while mild food restriction produced the best results. The researchers concluded that changing the pre-surgery diet may be an effective and inexpensive way to reduce the stress of surgery. The next step is to test their hypothesis on human subjects.

The study was published in the April 2013 issue of Surgery.

Posted in Chronic Diseases, Eating Right, HEALTH GOES STRONG, Health Risks, Nutritional Needs, Therapeutic Diets and tagged , , , , , .

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