risks of bariatric surgery

Nutrition Concerns and Bariatric Surgery

Is Bariatric Surgery the Solution for My Excess Weight?

Two out of three adults in the United States are obese. Many of which will become type II diabetics and suffer from a host of chronic health problems and possibly an early death.

Because of the serious nature of carrying excess weight, many doctors are now recommending bariatric surgery such as lap-band to quickly reduce weight into healthier ranges.

Severe and/or Morbid obesity is defined by those individuals with a body mass index greater than 35.

While the mortality rate for those undergoing surgery is relatively low at <1 case in 200 surgeries, 16% of cases are associated with nutritional complications.

Those receiving surgery are at risk for a number of nutrient deficiencies and the research mentions Calcium, iron, zinc, selenium, copper, thiamine, folic acid, vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin D, and vitamin K as major concerns.

One particular problem is B1 deficiency which can be associated with Wernicke's syndrome, a neurological problem typically experienced by chronic alcoholics.

Those looking to become pregnant following surgery are recommended to wait a year before trying to conceive so that their bodies may adjust and micronutrient deficiencies can be corrected, particularly levels of folic acid which is associated with support for prevention of neural tube defects.

It is also recommended that individuals prepare their bodies leading up to the surgery, so as to lessen potential of nutritional problems following surgery.

Many individuals overlook the fact that the surgery is associated with relatively severe diet restrictions following the surgery as they are limited to liquids and soft foods before working up to normal foods that we are used to.

Additionally it's important to understand that it is no substitue for diet and lifestyle change, and at best is to jumpstart the process of weight loss to reduce diabetic complications and other immediate complications due to excess weight.

Research is not strong in showing that the surgery reduces systemic inflammation and other health risks associated with excess weight, and so it's important to look at the full context of advantages and disadvantages to the procedure you choose.

Some of the exciting news coming from the rise in bariatric surgery is that we are learning more about the mechanisms of why it works.

These mechanisms such as how the gut communicates with the brain to control hunger and satiety as well as how the surgery effects insulin release are all potential mechanisms that can be supported with less costly and potentially safer treatment options.

There's a time and a place for bariatric procedures, but make sure you have tried conservative options prior to deciding to go under the knife!