Life after Bariatric Surgery: Achieving the New You!––Mika Bradford

Life after Bariatric Surgery

Achieving the New You!

By Mika Bradford, CN, CPhT, Dougherty’s Pharmacy, North Dallas LIVING WELL Magazine

Each year thousands of Americans make the difficult decision to undergo bariatric weight loss surgery. This life changing decision they have made is simply the beginning of their journey towards achieving and maintaining weight loss goals. Achieving and maintaining weight loss goals requires long-term life style changes––specifically, altering eating habits.

After surgery, many experience a change in their perception of how foods taste and smell. Finding the right combination of health foods, meal replacements, and dietary supplements that are palatable and taken with ease is overwhelming. The very nature of this type of surgery limits the volume of food and liquids that can be consumed and in turn, it reduces the calories eaten each day, which then leads to weight loss. Patients’ post-operative diets initially consist of clear liquids in serving sizes that range from 1-3 ounces depending on the type of surgery that has been done. The change in the amount of liquids and foods that are able to be eaten creates the need for these foods to be dense in their nutritional value while eliminating large quantities of sugar and fat. Over time, the types of food a bariatric patient can eat expands to include soft and eventually solid foods. However, because bariatric surgery changes the digestive process, vitamins and nutritional supplements will need to be taken throughout their lifetime.

Don’t get discouraged, we can help you find products to fit your individual needs.

Protein is an important part of the bariatric meal plan and patients need to consume at least 60-75 grams of protein per day. Inadequate protein consumption can contribute to the feeling of being tired, lacking energy and hair loss. All too often, customers come to us looking for new protein powders, drinks and bars because they are burned out on the traditional flavors typically found at a regular health food store. In order to provide a diverse selection of protein products to choose from, we offer numerous high-protein low-carbohydrate meal replacements from brands like Bariatric Advantage, Nectar, Metabolic, Jay Robb, ProJoe, Quest, NoGii, Egg Whites International and Muscle Egg.

Avoid vitamin deficiencies and secondary health complications.

Vitamins and minerals are critical to the long-term health of a bariatric patient. Some surgeries have a tendency to create a higher state of malabsorption than others. This is why it is so important to continue seeing your surgeon, or primary care physician, who is familiar with the nutritional needs of a bariatric patient. As years go by, and patients move further out from their surgery dates, it is not uncommon that the importance in taking vitamins and minerals falls to the wayside.

The onset of vitamin deficiencies can be gradual, occurring over a period of years. These deficiencies can contribute to a number of health conditions:

  • Calcium deficiency may lead to weakened and broken bones or a collapsed spine.
  • Low Vitamin D can contribute to weakened bones, sub-optimal thyroid functioning, chronic pain, low testosterone, depression and a weakened immune system.
  • Low levels of B12 may lead to tingling of hands and feet, nerve damage, difficulty walking or holding things, and paralysis.
  • Iron deficiency may lead to chronic fatigue, dizziness, and low blood count. One study found that iron stores continuously declined up to seven years after bypass surgery.
  • Vitamin A is essential for proper immune system functions and the production of new cells, which aid in the wound healing process. Changes in skin texture and appearance can occur as well as the development of acne.

Studies have found that fat-soluble vitamins A, D, and K will be deficient in two-thirds of these patients within four years after surgery. If a deficiency is identified, a digestive enzyme can be taken with each meal to support the digestive process that can directly result in a higher rate of absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. They also have found that 50% of patients will have low calcium levels. If these deficiencies are left undiagnosed, severe and irreparable problems can be the result. If B12 is not supplemented above and beyond a multivitamin, 30% of bypass patients will be unable to maintain normal levels of plasma B12 at one year. After one year, the prevalence of B12 deficiency appears to increase yearly and has been reported to be between 36 and 70% in the long term.

No problem is too small for us to assist you with.

Our team of wellness professionals is made up of pharmacists, a certified nutritionist, and a registered dietician who is also a diabetes educator. No problem is too small for us to assist you with and while many questions you may have can be answered in a brief conversation, we do offer client and problem specific consultations. Services are charged in increments of 30 minutes and some are eligible for insurance submission.

So if you have ever said…

  • “Nothing seems to taste right after surgery.”
  • “I can’t seem to ever consume enough protein.”
  • “I fill full and can’t seem to fit all my vitamins and daily diet requirements in throughout the day.”
  • “My vitamin levels always seem to be low even though I’m taking my supplements regularly.”
  • “Eating vegetables can be difficult. Are there other ways to get fiber in my diet?”

We can help you overcome these barriers and reach the goals your physician has established for your plan of care. We also offer an extensive selection of over-the-counter powders, liquids, and chewable digestive aids to assist in the reduction of acid and gas.

We are with you every step of the way.

The recovery process for bariatric surgery includes changes in the amount and types of food eaten, supplementation with vitamins and minerals and, often, post-operative medications that prevent blood clots. Blood clots in the legs (venous thrombosis) are another possible postoperative problem that can arise. This risk can best be reduced by exercising the leg muscles to promote blood flow. While walking is the ideal exercise, some patients struggle with having enough energy to get up and move frequently immediately after surgery. For this reason, we offer compression socks appropriately sized for bariatric patients that look nice, can be used for everyday wear, and provide the support your legs need to relax the vascular system, allowing optimal blood flow throughout the legs.

We’ll see you soon!

For over 84 years, Dougherty’s Pharmacy has helped physicians and customers alike by providing hard to find items and creating customized medications to meet their unique needs. In that same spirit, we now offer a diverse selection of dietary supplements and meal replacements that can meet the needs of bariatric patients and health enthusiasts alike. We offer one of the largest selections of bariatric dietary supplements and meal replacement in North Texas and if your health demands require additional support, our team of pharmacists can discuss with your physician some alternative solutions. While most physicians are aware of our ability to compound medications, many do not know that we can also compound vitamins and nutritional supplements into a topical, oral or injectable delivery system. Whatever your needs may be, stop in at one of our two locations and let us assist you!