This past Saturday I had the honour of speaking with a group of amazing people, The Coalition of Bariatric Patients of Southern Ontario (CBPSO), at their annual meet and greet held this year in Paris, Ontario. This is the second year I have been asked to speak on the topic of iron deficiency and how it relates to the Bariatric patient. This is a topic near and dear to my heart, not only because I have a specific interest in patients with iron deficiency related to malabsorption, but because I am one of them.
Studies have found that as many as 49% of bariatric patients develop iron deficiency. What’s the reason for this? There are actually a few factors at play that lead to iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia following bariatric surgery, which I will discuss here.
How Bariatric Surgery Affects Your Iron
Bariatric surgery can include several types of surgeries made to help obese patients lose weight in combination with a healthy diet and lifestyle changes. They alter the digestive tract which not only changes the way your body processes food, but also the way it absorbs nutrients from food.
Bariatric procedures fall under the following categories:
- Malabsorptive with some restriction
- Combination of restrictive with some malabsorption
With restrictive procedures, the size of the digestive tract is reduced so that you can only consume a limited amount of calories. By drastically limiting your food intake, you also limit the amount of iron-rich foods you eat which can lead to iron deficiency.
Malabsorptive procedures alter the way your stomach and intestines absorb the food. Unfortunately, this also limits how your body absorbs nutrients from the foods you eat, and can very quickly lead to deficiencies, including B12, folate, and yes, iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia.
Along with eating considerably less because of bariatric surgery, most patients also find it difficult to “stomach” food after surgery. This is not only because of the surgery itself and getting accustomed to your “new” digestive tract and diet, but also because of the medications that are commonly prescribed after the surgery which can cause side effects on top of everything else, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Content and advice provided on The Iron Maiden is for information purposes only and should not serve as a substitute for a licensed health care provider, who is knowledgeable about an individual’s unique health care needs