How can obesity affect anesthesia?

Dr. Scott Wilcher discusses how obesity can affect anesthesia. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

How can obesity affect anesthesia?

Obesity can affect anesthesia quite a bit. A lot of patients who are very overweight have sleep apnea. Sleep apnea can be a very big risk factor for anesthesia. Those patients can be harder to wake up, they're more prone to have breathing problems after surgery. Anesthesia is also affected by the amount of fat in your body. A lot of the drugs that we use are fat soluble, so it takes more anesthesia to put someone who's morbidly obese to sleep. It takes longer to wake them up. They are more likely to have cardio and pulmonary complications after surgery than someone who is not heavily overweight.


Anesthesia can cause challenges with surgeries if you’re overweight, according to the American Society of AnesthesiologistsOff Site Icon (ASA).

Obesity can make veins hard to find. And, medication dosing can be difficult when you carry extra weight.

Being obese can also increase your risk for problems after surgery, including breathing problems if you already had sleep apnea and even cardio pulmonary issues, Premier Physician Network (PPN) physicians say.

Talk to your doctor for more information about anesthesia and obesity.

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