Weight loss surgery is one way many people choose to lose weight; Often, an iundesired outcome of this procedure is the inability of the patient's body to absorb iron. Lack of iron in the body is a problem after stomach bypass surgery and standard iron supplementation just is not enough to correct this issue for some patients.
A recent study shows that of sixty seven women that underwent the most common form of bypass surgery, a little more than a third of them developed anemia (low blood cell counts), within one year and a half of surgery. The most common cause was the body’s lack of iron, a vital component for the blood to carry oxygen throughout the body.
On the other hand, less than two percent of these women had been anemic prior to the surgery, the study reports in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
It is common knowledge that nutritional deficiencies are a possible outcome of the surgery studied in the trial, known as Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RNY). Typically this is the most commonly used weight loss surgery for the morbidly obese.
This surgery includes the stapling of the upper stomach in order to have a small pocket that controls the quantity of food a patient can consume before they feel full. The doctor also creates a path from the pouch that goes around the rest of the stomach as well as a portion of the small intestine; this controls how much of the food is absorbed into the system.
These test results show that limited iron absorption, rather than lowered iron intake, is the primary reason behind the long-term deficiency after gastric bypass, as stated by the research team.
Six months after their initial surgeries most women were showing that they only absorbed about one third the iron they had been getting prior to the surgery.
The participants in the study were given vitamin and iron tablets to take, however not all of them actually took the pills. The ones that were given the pills were prescribed 18 milligrams per day the standard amount of iron intake for women under the age of 50.
That amount, Ruz and his colleagues write, appears "largely insufficient to prevent iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia."
The research group says that some post-op patients may need to take new iron supplements that are absorbed faster and easier, or have infusions of the iron instead of the pills, to prevent a deficiency.
The American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery states that about a quarter of a million Americans had undergone some form of weight-loss surgery in 2008, with gastric bypass being the most common procedure.