Bariatric Surgery Complications Often Accompany Weight Loss -

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Published: September 9th, 2011

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Researchers report that surgical procedures designed to help people lose weight can result in the loss of plenty of pounds, but also create a large number of serious complications; particularly one extreme process known as the duodenal switch. 

A study published this week in the Annals of Internal Medicine that looks at the results and side effects of weight loss surgery, which can result in malnutrition, vision problems, vitamin deficiencies and other serious complications

Norwegian researchers specifically looked at gastric bypass surgery and duodenal switch surgery; both of which are usually reserved for very obese people who need to lose weight for health reasons. Collectively they are known as bariatric surgeries.

Gastric bypass surgery alters the size and shape of the stomach and intestines in order to address issues of extreme obesity and to promote rapid weight loss. The procedure has gained in popularity in recent years, but the changes to the body require recipients to also permanently alter the way they eat to ensure they receive the proper balance of nutrients.

Duodenal surgery is even more radical, where most of the stomach is removed, and the remainder is turned into a sleeve that is attached to the small intestines, resulting in the body having little opportunity to digest food and extract nutrients and calories.

Both operations require nutritional supplements and a major alteration of the recipient's diet for the rest of their life.

According to the researchers' findings, the weight loss accompanying the two procedures is significant. Gastric bypass surgery recipients loss an average of 111 pounds, while duodenal switch patients lost about 162 pounds on average.

While duodenal switch resulted in more weight loss, it also caused more complications. Some of the risks include a lack of calcium and vitamin D, which can cause bones to be weak and fragile. There are also nutritional problems and the risk of night blindness and severe iron deficiencies.

About 220,000 people in the U.S. underwent bariatric surgery in 2009. Gastric bypass is the most popular, and duodenal is only performed in about 1% of those operations and is reserved for the most extreme cases of obesity.

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09 Sep, 2011

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