Weight Loss Surgery: Long-Term Results
Bariatric surgery can help you get past those cravings, get healthier, and be more active.
Health Problems After Weight Loss Surgery
Whether you have gastric bypass or gastric banding surgery, specific complications are a risk. It's important that you watch for problems -- and see your surgeon right away.
Gastric Bypass Surgery Problems
Nutrition deficiencies. If you have gastric bypass surgery, monitoring your nutrition intake -- protein, fluids, vitamins, and minerals -- is a critical component in long-term success.
The surgical alterations create a state of malabsorption, which contributes to weight loss. Essentially, it means that the body eliminates calories, fat, vitamins, and minerals in food you eat. To keep the body healthy, those nutrients must be replaced -- with vitamin B12, calcium, and iron supplements as well as a multivitamin.
"Vitamins and minerals are medications," Fernstrom explains. "If you don't take them, you will have significant deficits -- cognitive deficits, anemia, or osteoporosis. There are consequences with not following the lifestyle."
With gastric banding surgery, there is less risk of serious nutrition deficiencies -- as malabsorption is not involved in that surgery. However, there still is the need to eat a healthy, balanced diet. A daily multivitamin is also required.
Malnutrition can be a big problem for some gastric bypass patients. It occurs in rare cases, when the person has lost too much weight, explains Madan. This can be related to surgery, when the connection between the small bowel and the stomach is too small.
"They can only eat very little, even less than the normal four ounces," he says. "They're hungry but they can't eat. They're vomiting all the time."
An outpatient procedure easily relieves the problem. It involves a flexible endoscope into the mouth, then a balloon is used to dilate the connection, which relieves the problem.
However, when patients having this problem don’t go and see their doctor, it can develop into severe nutrition, Madan says.
Regaining Weight -- or Not Losing Weight. For gastric bypass patients, eating too frequently is a typical problem. Since the pouch restricts how much you eat, it's difficult to overeat in any one meal.
"A patient may bring lunch to work, eat only a quarter of it at noon, but eat the rest over the afternoon," says Courcoulas. "They're eating more calories than they should -- just eating them in small amounts."