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Weight Loss After Liver Transplant

written by: Jim Vassallo • edited by: Emma Lloyd • updated: 7/29/2010

Liver transplant and weight loss are so closely tied that gaining weight after the transplant can help the organ connect with the body.

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    Patients who have liver transplant surgery performed need to stick to a specific diet to maintain their ideal body weight based on their height and health history. A liver transplant does not occur commonly, with only 5,000 or so occurring each year in the United States out of 17,000 people sitting on the waiting list for a new liver.

    Patients need liver transplants for various reasons including cirrhosis, hepatitis, biliary atresia, bacterial peritonitis, hepatic encephalopathy and many other medical conditions. Even though liver transplants are hard to come by, once they are performed, patients can expect their lives to improve almost ten fold after the procedure.

    A liver transplant and weight loss are tied into one another because this procedure can cause the body to lose large amounts of weight. For some, this can be an unhealthy mix but for others this will create a whole new view on life.

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    Gaining Weight After Liver Transplant

    Liver transplant and weight loss are tied into each other strongly to the point where it can positively affect overweight people and negatively affect people of the perfect weight. It is vitally important for patients who have had a liver transplant to gain weight following their procedure if they lost 20 pounds or more following the procedure and were not overweight prior to the surgery. Those patients who needed to lose weight and have lost weight should keep the weight off that they lost in order to stay healthy following the procedure. They should exercise regularly, stick to a strict diet, and avoid salty foods and alcohol.

    For patients who were of an ideal body weight prior to the surgery and have lost so much weight that they look sickly, they should consult their physician about putting together a specific diet to gain the weight back to return to health. Once the patient has been released from ICU and the hospital, he or she can begin to exercise regularly, using a weight training program, in order to put the weight back on the body. The patient should also eat the meals they were used to eating prior to the surgery but try to stay away from salty foods and alcohol.

    All of these activities will help the patient regain their strength, which is imperative for a liver transplant patient to do following the surgery and the release from the hospital. Your physician should monitor your weight gain for at least two or three months so that it does not become too excessive for the new liver to handle while it still connects to the body. Too much weight gain at once can cause the body to reject the liver, making the transplant a failure.

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    References

    eMedicineHealth: http://www.emedicinehealth.com/liver_transplant/article_em.htm

    Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/liver-transplant/MY00349