Expert Answer: Why are vitamins important after bariatric surgery?

May 17 8:18am | Tara Schmidt, Mayo Clinic registered dietitian nutritionist | @taraschmidt | Comments (4)

Wooden spoons with medications

Written by Stephanie N. Vanderboom, APRN, C.N.P. Stephanie is a nurse practitioner who sees patients after they have undergone weight loss surgeries. 

After bariatric surgery, it is recommended that you initiate vitamin and mineral supplements.  Vitamins and minerals are important after bariatric surgery for two main reasons.   The first is that after bariatric surgery, you absorb fewer essential nutrients from foods.  With both the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass and duodenal switch surgeries, part of the intestine is bypassed. This means food will not enter that part of the intestine, and therefore nutrients will not be absorbed in that area.

The second reason vitamins and minerals are needed is because you are eating smaller amounts of food at meals because the size of the stomach has been reduced.  With the sleeve gastrectomy and duodenal switch surgeries the residual stomach (or part that remains functioning) is about the size of a banana and with the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass it is about the size of a small egg or walnut.

Vitamins and minerals will be needed lifelong to prevent nutritional deficiencies.  Your healthcare provider may adjust your vitamin and mineral supplements at any point after bariatric surgery depending on your laboratory work.  This is one of the many reasons why it is important to follow up with your provider after bariatric surgery.

Is the absorption of other medications affected, like post op pain medications?

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While I've never had weight loss surgery, I have had three surgeries of the duodenal bulb to remove carcinoid cancer. So, I also wonder about the absorption of all types of meds. Should this be a consideration when dosages are prescribed?

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@annlopour

Is the absorption of other medications affected, like post op pain medications?

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Despite these changes to the stomach and intestine, many medications are absorbed normally in people who have had gastric bypass surgery, including most pain medications.

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@hopeful33250

While I've never had weight loss surgery, I have had three surgeries of the duodenal bulb to remove carcinoid cancer. So, I also wonder about the absorption of all types of meds. Should this be a consideration when dosages are prescribed?

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Teresa, it is always best to work directly with your medical providers regarding these concerns as individuals absorption may differ. But despite changes to the stomach and intestine, many medications are absorbed normally in people who have had gastric bypass surgery, including most pain medications as stated to the answer of the other question so the dosages may not need to be different

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