Too Heavy for Back Surgery? Not Anymore!
Author: Dr. Hamid Abbasi
DATE: 10 Apr 2018
If you’re overweight and suffer from chronic back pain or a back condition, such as degenerative disc disease, herniated disc, spondylolisthesis, scoliosis, or spinal stenosis, you’re not alone. Excess weight and back problems go hand-in-hand. Those extra pounds put excessive wear and tear on your discs, joints, ligaments, and muscles, making it difficult for you to move effortlessly and pain-free. Eventually, you end up with a spinal condition.
Here’s the double whammy: Being overweight most likely contributed to your back problem, but your back pain makes it difficult to exercise, which makes it even harder to lose weight. It’s a vicious cycle.
Weighing the risks
Some obese patients could be helped with back surgery, but traditional surgery is far riskier for these patients than it is for those with a slimmer physique. Obese patients are at significantly higher risk for post-operative complications such as surgical site infections or dangerous blood clots in the deep veins of the leg or groin. 1 Researchers at Thomas Jefferson University determined that not only does being overweight mean a higher risk of complications, but the heavier you are, the greater the risk that something could go wrong.
Then there’s the actual surgical procedure, which is considerably more difficult and typically takes longer when the patient is overweight. Some surgeons just flat out refuse to operate on obese patients at all.
Sadly, this all adds up to fewer options for obese patients. Until now.
If you have a high BMI and back pain, there’s good news
An innovative and minimally invasive keyhole surgical technique known as oblique lateral lumbar interbody fusion (OLLIF) offers a much safer alternative to traditional surgical procedures. It’s proven to be a real success story for those who are overweight and suffer from chronic back pain.
Hamid R. Abbasi, MD, PhD, a board-certified neurosurgeon, is chief medical officer at Inspired Spine and an internationally recognized expert in minimally invasive spinal surgery. Dr. Abbasi has dedicated the past 20 years to researching and perfecting Inspired Spine’s minimally invasive keyhole procedures. He has performed more than 500 OLLIF procedures.
Dr. Abbasi’s work has shown that OLLIF is as safe for patients with a high body mass index (BMI) as it is for those with a low BMI. No other spinal fusion technique can offer this assurance.
“By reducing the risk for the patient, we can offer a solution that will literally change an obese patient’s everyday life.”
— Dr. Hamid Abbasi Chief Medical Officer Inspired Spine
Other surgical procedures are exponentially more risky.2 For example:
- The OLLIF procedure takes half as much time—on average, 135 minutes for traditional surgery versus 63 minutes for OLLIF.
- For most patients, hospital stays are cut in half. In some cases, patients can go home the same day.
- Patients recover much faster after OLLIF—typically in a matter of weeks instead of months.
- There’s less post-operative pain because back muscles and ligaments are not dissected. This also means less scarring.
An OLLIF-trained surgeon at Inspired Spine can guide you through your treatment options and help you decide on the best choice for you.