Regaining Mobility Through Weight-loss Surgery

For patients struggling with obesity, joint replacement and weight-loss surgery often go hand-in-hand.

Yet for people with severe or morbid obesity – 75+ pounds of excess weight and a body mass index, or BMI, over 35 – the risks associated with joint replacement surgery are dramatically increased. The extra weight wears down the structures of the joint faster, puts added pressure on the heart and lungs and increases the risks associated with hypertension, type 2 diabetes, severe sleep apnea and other chronic conditions.

“When a candidate for joint replacement is severely or morbidly obese, they need to lose the weight prior to the surgery,” says Peter C. LePort, M.D., medical director of the MemorialCare Center Surgical Weight Loss Center at Orange Coast Medical Center. “Not only will the surgery and recovery be much easier for them, they’ll be more mobile afterward, and the pressure on that new joint will be reduced.”

Dr. LePort and the experts at the MemorialCare Surgical Weight Loss Center work collaboratively with the orthopedic specialists at the MemorialCare Joint Replacement Center to deliver the best possible patient outcomes. Designated as a Center of Excellence in Bariatric Surgery, the Surgical Weight Loss Center offers the latest evidence-based techniques and procedures while providing extensive patient education programs both before and after surgery.

“We’ve performed nearly 14,000 bariatric surgeries, so our expertise truly positions patients for success,” says Dr. LePort. “Some patients can lose the weight on their own prior to their joint replacement surgery. But many can’t. That’s what we’re here for – to determine the best treatment plan so patients can live longer, fuller lives.”


When candidates for joint replacement surgery are referred to the MemorialCare Surgical Weight Loss Center, they first meet with a counselor who reviews their treatment options with them. Surgically, these may include gastric bypass, gastric sleeve and gastric banding – all of which reduce food intake by closing off part of the stomach. Through various classes, support groups, and one-on-one meetings with weight-loss specialists and dietitians, patients develop a thorough understanding of their weight-loss journey, including the need for behavior modification.

After surgery, support and monitoring continue as the patient works to lose weight – and keep it off. By six to 12 months post-surgery, many patients have lost approximately 50-to-80 percent of their excess body weight, and are ready to undergo the needed joint replacement surgery.


After this significant weight loss, some patients find that their joint pain is greatly reduced, and they no longer need joint replacement surgery.

Others find that despite their weight loss, the damage to their joint is too severe. For them, joint replacement surgery offers the best chance at regaining their mobility. At the MemorialCare Joint Replacement Center, advanced imaging technology ensures proper joint placement for the elimination of pain, while an innovative approach offers faster recoveries. Patients are often back on their feet the same day as surgery.

“We want our patients to live full lives, without limitations, and without pain,” says Dr. LePort. “That’s our commitment to well-being.”

For more information on the MemorialCare Surgical Weight Loss Center call 877-HEALTHY. To learn more about weight-loss and joint replacement, listen to Dr. LePort’s podcast. For more information on the MemorialCare Joint Replacement Center, please call (714) 378-7264 or visit our section on Joint Replacement.