How to Lose Weight Before Your Breast Reconstruction Surgery
Prior to surgery, PRMA recommends that patients have a BMI below 40, and preferably below 35. This is because patients who have a BMI over 40 have a higher risk of complications, particularly wound healing problems. While DIEP flap surgery is safe for patients with a BMI over 35, losing weight decreases the risk of complications during and after surgery, improves healing and recovery, and helps you achieve the best results long term. Losing weight also decreases the risk of a breast cancer recurrence. Being as close to your ideal weight as possible prior to surgery is therefore always strongly recommended.
What Are the Best Tips to Lose Weight Before Surgery?
It is important to consult with your plastic surgeon and ask them how much weight you need to lose before your surgery. Your healthcare team will typically recommend a nutritionist in order to ensure you lose weight in a healthy way. In addition, we have created a general guideline for anyone looking to lose weight before surgery.
- Drink More Water: It may surprise you to learn that drinking water can aid in weight loss. Many times, while you feel hungry, you may actually just be thirsty. Therefore, try to drink 1 to 2 liters of water each day.
- Cut Out Processed Foods: Foods that have been heavily processed often contain unhealthy amounts of salt, sugar, chemicals, and preservatives. Reducing your intake of these highly processed foods is one of the most effective ways to improve your health and enhance the quality of your diet. Some processed foods to avoid include sugary drinks, syrups and jams, chocolate and candies, potato chips, bakery products, and fast foods.
- Increase Salad Intake: Salad is one of the most popular weight loss-friendly foods. Leafy vegetables are low in calories and sodium and do not contain cholesterol. Some of the health benefits leafy greens provide come from phytonutrients, which are special compounds that provide protection for plants. These substances are increasingly acknowledged as an essential part of a healthy diet that supports long-term health and wellness. Antioxidants, such as phytonutrients, can protect against chronic diseases including cancer and heart disease.
- Limit Your Sugar Consumption: It is important to decrease your sugar consumption when preparing for surgery. Try replacing it with a healthier, calorie-free option such as Stevia. Although sugar may provide an initial boost of energy, what follows is a significant drop in glucose, leaving you tired, lethargic, and irritable. Replace added sugar calories with complex carbs and foods with natural sugars and fiber like fruit to provide a steadier and longer supply of energy.
- Exercise More if Possible: Regular exercise will accelerate the results of your weight loss efforts. If you are new to working out, we recommend starting out by walking short distances until you build up your endurance and stamina.
Pre-Surgery Nutrition Guide
Making sure you are getting all the nutrients your body needs is just as important as losing weight before surgery. Follow the below guidelines before your surgery:
- Eat enough protein: Eating 0.5g – 1g per kilogram of your body weight is recommended. Portion sizes should range from 4-6 ounces of lean protein such as fish, poultry, eggs, pork, beef, and vegetable sources such as tofu. Limit beef to 1-2 servings per week if possible. We suggest combining protein with complex carbs to help with satiety.
- Increase veggie intake: It’s important to consume at least 5 servings of leafy greens and vegetables per day.
- Carb intake: The more complex the better. Limit white bread and highly processed flour.
- Oils: Avoid trans fat and saturated animal fats. Vegetable oils such as olive, avocado, and canola oil are higher in omega 3.
- You can consume berries, nuts, and other foods high in antioxidants. You can also drink nonsugary drinks such as unsweetened tea.
“Set realistic, attainable goals after your surgery. Your body is going to feel different now than it did before surgery. If you are doing it simply to lose weight or get back into a certain dress or pant size you may be setting yourself up for failure. Reset your compass.”