6 Ways to Avoid the Hidden Dangers of Bariatric Surgery

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For many people, bariatric surgery is seen as a drastic, but essential, way to begin losing weight when it becomes a serious threat to one’s health. In general, though, it’s only reserved for certain groups of people:

  • Those with a BMI ? 40, or more than 100 pounds overweight.
  • Those with a BMI ?35 and at least one or more obesity-related co-morbidities. This can range from type II diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, osteoarthritis, gastrointestinal disorders, heart disease, and many other conditions.
  • Those who can’t reach successful weight loss despite previous efforts. Note that this is extremely different than a typical failed diet. Generally, serious exercises and dietary changes with no effect should be recorded by a doctor first.

While many people find bariatric surgery helpful, at the end of the day, it’s still a surgical procedure. According to Spiros Law, Champaign surgical error attorneys, “A study from John T. James published in the Journal of Patient Safety, found that an estimated 210,000-440,000 people each year who go to the hospital for care suffer some type of preventable harm that contributes to their death.” In order to avoid potential complications of bariatric surgery, here are some best practices and things you should look out for.

1. Don’t forget to monitor your mental health.

This may strike you as a bit of a surprise, but there’s a proven link between obesity and depression. Just because you start to lose weight doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to start feeling better mentally. In one study, 13 percent of patients recorded up to six to 12 months after bariatric surgery actually reported an increase in eating disorder behavior and depression-related issues. If you start finding yourself feeling more listless or withdrawn, it may be a good idea to speak to a mental health professional.

2. Try to avoid certain foods, especially initially afterwards.

85% of gastric bypass surgery recipients generally experience something called dumping syndrome at some point after their surgery. This is generally a reaction to the ingestion of certain foods like refined sugars or high-glycemic carbohydrates, where the food rapidly empties from the gastric pouch to the small intestine, manifesting in a number of different ways. There are a variety of different symptoms, ranging from nausea to palpitations to lightheadedness and audible bowel sounds. As scary as it may be the first time you experience it, dumping syndrome is quite manageable.

3. Try to limit your alcohol intake.

There’s an interesting correlation between alcohol abuse and post-bariatric surgery status. One study showed that patients who had bariatric surgery were more likely to be at risk of increased alcohol use. One theory behind this is that patients may have had higher peak alcohol levels, and reached that level quicker after drinking alcohol, but more study is needed. As a side note, soda is also something that you’re going to need to give up, as carbonated beverages introduce air into the stomach. This excess gas can cause your stomach to expand and undo some of the surgery results.

4. Consider getting some added supplements.

When it’s working in harmony, the digestive system allows you to get the most out of your balanced diet by absorbing nutrients. However, gastric bypass surgery can interfere with this because the portion of the digestive tract that helps absorb certain vitamins and minerals is bypassed. Iron, B-12 and calcium are three of the major examples. While eating more of a certain food, like leafy green vegetables or red meat for iron, is a good idea, this isn’t always practical after bariatric surgery. This is why it’s a good idea to sit down with your doctor and get their recommendation for some good dietary supplements.

5. Keep exercising.

Many experts recommend that when it comes to keeping healthy after bariatric surgery, work alongside your doctor to help settle yourself into a good routine of exercise. Once you are cleared for physical activity, try to start towards 60 minutes of exercise a day, around six days a week.

6. Be prepared for the long-haul.

Even if you have a successful bariatric surgery and don’t experience any of the major complications that can happen afterward, you still need to generally monitor your health. This means keeping in contact with your medical professionals and trying to avoid poor habits, like being sedentary or overeating.

In general, when it comes to bariatric surgery, before you even have your surgery done, you want to have a full picture of what you are committing to. This is a lifestyle change that has both benefits and drawbacks, so you want to weigh which are more important to you.

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