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Post-Bariatric Surgery Hypoglycemia: What You Should Know

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Bariatric surgery has provided numerous people with the opportunity to lose weight, which, beyond potentially improving health and quality of life, can also have long-ranging effects like reversing diabetes. Despite the positive effects on patients’ lives, bariatric procedures come with the risk of post-surgical complications.  

In a study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, researchers suggested that many people who have undergone bariatric surgery suffer from hyperinsulinemic hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar.

In another study, researchers from Stanford University School of Medicine and the Department of Biomedical Sciences at Panum Institute in Denmark proposed that patients suffer from hypoglycemia because the body does not or cannot sufficiently absorb nutrients after the weight loss surgery.

Effects

Some patients who experience post-bariatric hypoglycemia can suffer from light headedness, loss of consciousness or fainting spells, blurry vision, confusion, shakiness or weakness, and fatigue. These physical disturbances happen most often right after a meal.

Both post-gastric bypass hypoglycemia and dumping syndrome, another surgical complication, exhibit similar physical symptoms. Because of the physical consequences of the condition, including loss of consciousness, it is important to speak with your physician if you experience any of these symptoms after bariatric surgery.

Treatment

To treat hypoglycemic patients, physicians have attempted to use diet and medication to control the hypoglycemia. Mayo Clinic reports that the most severe situations have required surgical responses and the removal of parts of the pancreas, the organ that produces insulin.

Avoiding Hypoglycemia

The University of Minnesota Weight Loss Surgery Center recommends that after gastric bypass surgery, patients make a concerted effort to eat low carbohydrate foods. This type of diet will also prevent dumping syndrome.

The weight loss center recommends

  • Beef, pork, chicken, and turkey
  • Cheese, eggs, and tofu
  • Nut butters and whole nuts
  • Non-starchy vegetables (no corn, potatoes, or peas) like broccoli, asparagus, greens, and celery
  • Sugar-free products
  • Vegetable or meat broths like chicken or beef

Patients should avoid

  • Milk and ice cream
  • Dried beans and other legumes
  • Fruits
  • Grains – wheat, rice, and quinoa and all grain products
  • High-sugar products

Because bariatric surgery can provide patients with a new lifestyle, improved health, and better self-esteem, it has become a popular way to treat morbid obesity when diet and exercise regimens do not work for patients. But patients must also be aware of the potential post-operative side effects and concerns.

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