Osteoporosis After Weight Loss Surgery

12 November 2018
Two bones of varying shapes and sizes, symbolizing weight loss surgery.

Weight loss surgery, or otherwise known as bariatric surgery, is a group of individual procedures designed and performed to assist patients who are struggling with obesity and failing to lose weight. Bariatric procedures range in different surgeries from gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy, duodenal switch to gastric banding. Each procedure differs with some procedures aiming to restrict dietary intake and others decrease the absorption of food in the stomach and intestines.

Those who are suffering with obesity are at a higher risk of chronic vitamin D deficiency and inadequate calcium intake prior to having surgery. Following a weight loss procedure, these people are at an even greater risk due to deceased oral intake and malabsorption. Deceased oral intake and malabsorption affects the intestines ability to absorb important nutrients. This can lead to a raised concern for patients who may be more prone to bone illnesses including osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is a common bone disease which currently affects over 1 million Australians. The disease causes the bones to become brittle and can lead to a higher risk of bone breakage and fractures. People contract osteoporosis when the bones lose minerals faster than the body can replace them. This leads to the loss of bone density or mass.

Research has shown that weight loss surgery patients are more at risk of skeletal impact post-surgery, including bone loss and subsequent increased fracture risk in the long run.


What preventative measures can you take?

It is recommended that prior to taking part in weight loss surgery that the patient has their bone health assessed, paying special attention to risk factors which contribute to osteoporosis.

Post-surgery, it is recommended that patients ensure they are taking the necessary vitamin and mineral supplements for bone health, including calcium and vitamin D. Patients should also monitor their key nutrient absorption. If a patient is to be considered at risk of osteoporosis after weight loss surgery, then they should be considered by their medical professional to receive bone density testing as well as being prescribed osteoporosis therapy if necessary.


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