Mild Anemia or Iron Deficiencies Found in Teen Gastric Bypass Surgery Patients

According to a study presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies and Asian Society for Pediatric Research annual meeting, more than five years after Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery, many adolescents were still experiencing low iron storage or mild anemia diagnoses. This makes monitoring for nutritional deficiencies regularly in teens after bariatric surgery important. While the procedures are safe for these individuals, post-op care is vital to a patient’s health.

Doctors and nutritionists should encourage patients to adhere to a strict schedule of nutritional supplements, particularly those that do become low in most patients after surgery. Teens should be counseled about the risk of these deficiencies and screened for the most common ones. A healthy, balanced diet is the best way to prevent this from happening. However, once they occur, nutritional supplements are required to bring levels back to a healthy or normal range.

The study called Follow-Up of Adolescent Bariatric Surgery – 5+ (FABS 5+) study looked at 79 patients who were obese. Of those patients, 28 were non-operative, and 51 had Roux-en-y gastric bypass surgery between 2001 and 2007. At the eight-year average follow-up, anemia was found in 45.1% of those operated on and just 3.7% on those in the non-operative group. Hypoferritinemia, the presence of little to no iron in the body, was found in 48.2% of the non-operative group and 68.1 of the operative group. Both groups experienced nutritional deficiencies with similar rates of hypovitaminosis B12 and D as well as the low absolute lymphocyte. The non-operative patients had a higher rate of low folate than those operated on.

The study’s researchers believe that vertical sleeve gastrectomy surgery may be a viable option for those that do not want to alter their intestine and put themselves at risk for nutritional deficiencies. The results of the VSG surgery show just as much weight loss but carry a lower nutritional risk as it doesn’t route food past the first portion of the small intestine where many nutrients are absorbed. Patients who have nutritional problems before weight loss surgery such as low Vitamin D or anemia may be a better candidate for VSG than the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass procedure.

While both operations suggest the same type of nutritional supplements, long term studies show that VSG surgery has fewer cases of nutritional deficiencies. Future research can confirm this validity.