How Does Weight Loss Surgery Affect Nutrition?

When people are extremely overweight, they will try to reduce their obesity through diet and exercises. However, if you find that the level of obesity is not coming down even after following a diet plan consistently and you are suffering from myriad health problems as a result of the excess weight, you should seek medical help. Weight loss surgeries are therefore carried out when severe obesity has to be tackled. For some, such surgeries can even be life-saving.

Types of weight loss surgeries:

Weight loss surgeries can be of different types, although their common goal is to limit the amount of food intake in the body. The surgeries are not without complications and you will find blood clots, hernias and infections quite common. The four primary types are:

  • Gastric bypass surgery where the surgeon creates a pouch above the stomach for receiving food; this automatically restricts the food intake dramatically.
  • Laparoscopic gastric banding where a band with an inflatable balloon gets attached to the upper portion of the stomach. A port is placed below the abdominal skin and fluid gets injected and removed through this port. Gastric banding also limits food intake and makes the patient feel full faster. However it does not affect calorie and nutrient absorption.
  • Sleeve gastrectomy separates part of stomach from the body. The rest of the stomach is then made into a tube-like structure for holding limited food. This surgery affects release of ghrelin that regulates your appetite but not calorie absorption.
  • Duodenal switch with biliopancreatic diversion is carried out to remove a considerable part of the stomach. Here the surgeon closes the middle part of the intestine and joins the last part directly to duodenum. Food therefore bypasses nearly the whole of the small intestine and restricts nutrient and calorie absorption.

How surgery affects nutrition:

Since weight loss surgery affects the amount of nutrients and calories absorbed by the body, you are automatically taking in fewer calories. You will also be prone to suffering from nutritional deficiencies in the process. Neglecting vitamins and supplements and binging on unhealthy junk foods post-surgery can lead to acute malnutrition. You will also need to avoid taking a whole lot of food at a time; this may make you sick. The malnourishment resulting from such surgeries can cause bone diseases, loss of muscle mass and low blood count. Since the gastric bypass surgery restricts the body’s power to absorb useful nutrients, you can suffer from deficiencies in calcium, iron, vitamins etc.

Dealing with malnourishment post-surgery: To cope with these nutritional deficiencies, it is important to take nutritional supplements throughout your life as advised by the doctor. You have to adapt yourself to eating portion controlled small meals. You must also remain active and perform regular physical exercises to keep the weight off. You can avail of behavioral counseling programs to learn how to make the transition to a healthier lifestyle easily.

The recovery period tends to be long particularly after the gastric bypass surgery. You need to be prepared for the risks you can face after such a surgery. Health complications are not uncommon and you should be ready to deal with these. You will have to learn how to eat food slowly chewing it well so that you do not feel overstuffed after a meal. Surgery is not a one-time solution for obesity; you have to work hard to keep off the weight.