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Bariatric Surgery Weakens Bones

Bariatric surgery helps people lose weight by restricting the amount of food they can eat. Research into this radical procedure, however, shows that it may interfere with bone formation.

Some experts believe bariatric surgery is the most effective treatment against obesity. In the U.S., the most common bariatric procedure is called “Roux-en-Y” gastric bypass, an operation that entails removing a large part of the stomach and bypassing part of the small intestine.

“Even though we don’t yet understand all the mechanisms, we can see that the more radical the procedure, the greater the bone loss long-term,” says researcher Malgorzata Brzozowska.

“In many situations significant weight loss is associated with bone loss, with or without surgery. The more invasive types of surgery appear to heighten bone turnover and the associated bone loss. This is thought to be caused not only by rapid weight loss and absorption of fewer vital nutrients like vitamin D and calcium, but possibly also by changes in hormones released by fat and the gut, and their impact on the central nervous system,” she adds.