From a recent paper:
A single-centre prospective analysis of postoperative complications in 4293 patients undergoing general surgery was conducted, with a median follow-up time of 6.3 years. We analyzed the impact of bodyweight on postoperative morbidity and mortality, using univariate and multivariate regression models.
The obese had more concomitant diseases, increased risk of wound infection, greater intraoperative blood loss and a longer operation time. Being underweight was associated with a higher risk of complications, although not significant in adjusted analysis. Multivariate regression analysis demonstrated that underweight patients had worse outcome (HR 2.1; 95 % CI 1.4-3.0), whereas being overweight (HR 0.6; 95 % CI 0.5–0.8) or obese (HR 0.7; 95 % CI 0.6–0.9) was associated with improved survival.
Obesity alone is a significant risk factor for wound infection, more surgical blood loss and a longer operation time. Being obese is associated with improved long-term survival, validating the obesity paradox. We also found that complication and mortality rates are significantly worse for underweight patients. Our findings suggest that a tendency to regard obesity as a major risk factor in general surgery is not justified. It is the underweight patient who is most at risk of major postoperative complications, including long-term mortality.