Patient Factors that Affect Surgery Outcomes

Patient Expert

When thinking about surgery to repair damaged joints, it's important to understand all aspects of the process. This includes reasons for and against certain procedures, what exactly will happen during the surgery; what length of recovery and rehabilitation will be required, and what your financial responsibility will be versus what will be covered by insurance. Knowing these things will help avoid surprises and unintended barriers to successful recovery.

There are other individual-specific considerations that affect how well and how quickly a person might recovery from surgery. The following are pre-surgery factors that have a positive influence on the success of surgical recovery:

  • Strong social support (people who care about the patient and/or can help during recovery)
  • Good mental health (low stress, lack of depression and anxiety)
  • Other health problems are under control
  • The patient is not overweight

On the other hand, a lack of these positive factors can have a detrimental affect on a person recovering from surgery. For example, if you have other uncontrolled medical conditions such as heart disease or an infection, the strain of surgery could cause serious complications. Also, poor mental health or a generally negative attitude can lessen a person's motivation to perform rehabilitation exercises.

In addition, being overweight adds stress to your heart and lungs during surgery and can complicate and slow your recovery. Having social support positively affects both physical and emotional assistance after surgery and also increases the patient's motivation to recover.

However, a person with little social support may opt not to have surgery at all because of physical limitations right after surgery. Many patients are dependent on others during the first month or two of healing and rehabilitation.

Other factors that can affect recovery are age, gender, and whether the patient had unilateral or bilateral surgery. Age is a factor in determining what type of surgery to have. Since older people are more sedentary, the range of motion, stability and long-term wear of joint implant may be lesser considerations than for a young person.

If you are overweight, suffer from depression, or do not have anyone to help you, talk to your physician. All of these factors can alter the surgery and recovery processes, so it's important that you discuss them with your doctor when considering any type of surgery.