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Tijuana Bariatric Center Blog

Iron Deficiency After Bariatric Surgery

It can be difficult to lose weight, especially when a person is considered medically obese. Extreme weight often limits physical activities, which interferes with weight loss attempts. When a person is classified as obese, and especially when their health is suffering as a result, bariatric surgery may be the best option. Bariatric surgery alters the size of the stomach and adjusts the digestive tract so that patients can lose a large amount of weight in a fairly short amount of time. One potential risk of bariatric surgery is nutrition deficiencies. Nutrition deficiencies may leave a patient feeling weak, tired, or irritable. One of the most common of these deficiencies is iron deficiency. The experienced team of doctors at the Tijuana Bariatric Center discuss iron deficiency after bariatric surgery with our Tijuana, MX, patients, and offer tips on how to avoid this post-surgical complication.

Juicer surrounded by fruits and vegetables

Why Do Deficiencies Occur?

When bariatric surgery is performed, a large portion of the stomach is removed. This greatly limits the amount of food that a person can eat in one sitting. Because the number of calories being taken in is greatly reduced, it is more difficult to receive the proper amount of iron and other nutrients through diet alone. Further, when a gastric bypass procedure is performed, our doctors reroute the entire digestive tract. Nutrients such as iron are absorbed in the first part of the small intestines, which is called the duodenum. However, after gastric bypass, food never goes through the duodenum. Since food bypasses the duodenum, vital nutrients cannot be absorbed. 

Side Effects of Iron Deficiency

Iron is vital to the strength and health of the body, so when a person suffers from iron deficiency, there will be noticeable side effects. Some of the potential side effects of iron deficiency include the following:

  • Depleted energy
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Hair loss
  • Brittle nails
  • Irritability
  • Headaches
  • Shortness of breath
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Chest pain

Avoiding Iron Deficiency

Iron deficiency is definitely a risk after bariatric surgery, but it can be prevented. By taking proper precautions, patients can avoid iron deficiency and its unpleasant side effects. Following are some helpful tips for how patients can ensure they receive adequate iron in the weeks and months after undergoing bariatric surgery:

  • Maintain a well-balanced diet
  • Choose foods that are rich in iron, such as red meat, poultry, seafood, leafy greens, and legumes
  • Avoid drinking more than two cups of milk a day, as this can decrease iron absorption
  • Use any recommended or prescribed supplements to increase iron intake

Iron deficiency can develop months or years after gastric bypass, so patients should continually monitor iron levels. Our doctors will check iron levels frequently in the first year after gastric bypass surgery and then once a year after that to ensure our patients are receiving the nutrients they need to stay healthy.

Contact Us

If you have struggled to lose excess weight and are worried that it is impacting your health, you owe it to yourself to learn more about bariatric surgery. Contact us at your earliest convenience to hear more about the bariatric techniques offered at the Tijuana Bariatric Center, and which may best meet your unique needs. We look forward to hearing from you!

Tagged In: Bariatric Surgery, Nutrition

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