Weight loss surgery can help you lose weight, but it’s also likely to leave you unable to absorb iron.
While earlier research found that iron deficiency is a common problem after stomach bypass surgery to treat severe obesity, new research suggests it can also lead to a long-term loss of healthy red blood cells, otherwise known as anemia.
A team led by Dr. Dan Eisenberg, a bariatric surgeon at Stanford School of Medicine conducted a study with US veterans who got a common form of bariatric surgery and found that anemia rates were high even after 10 years.
"Anemia is a common problem in patients who have undergone gastric bypass, and this study sheds light on the severity of the problem in patients who don't receive adequate treatment," said Dr. Allison Barrett to the Daily Mail, she directs bariatric surgery at Long Island Jewish Forest Hill, in Forest Hill, New York.
She believes the research proves that complications of surgery, such as vitamin and mineral deficiency, can also be lessened through improved follow-up."
The study which was published in the Jama Surgery journal found Eisenberg's team to have tracked outcomes for 74 older male veterans, average age 51, who underwent a Roux-en-Y type of gastric bypass surgery.
The team noted that the overall rate of anemia before surgery was 20 percent, but had risen to 47 percent 10 years after the surgery.
However the study found follow-up care to be crucial to anemia, those patients who consulted their weight-loss physicians saw a minute rise in their anemia levels, from 13 percent before surgery to 19 percent a decade later.
However those who did not follow up saw their anemia rates rise from 22 percent before surgery to 57 percent a decade later.
Simple treatments can curb the deficiencies that might occur after surgery according to bariatric surgeon Dr. Mitchell Roslin, who directs obesity surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
"In gastric bypass, the first portion of the intestine is bypassed and iron is absorbed preferentially in that area," he added Roslin,
"In general, this can be compensated for with appropriate supplements," he said, "but patients that do not take prescribed supplements are likely to develop deficiencies."
While bariatric surgery will help curb obesity patients cannot believe they are cured and must try to follow their doctors orders to be able to maintain a healthy lifestyle.