Thyroid Problems After Gastric Bypass

The thyroid gland plays an important role in several essential functions in the human body. Thyroid hormones can help regulate a number of body functions including metabolic rate, brain development, digestive process, and bone maintenance.

It is known that when the thyroid gland doesn't produce enough hormones, weight gain can be seen as a result. There is a complex cycle of interaction and feedback between the thyroid, pituitary, and adrenal glands and the pancreas, insulin, and glucagon, which play a role in obesity.

Due to this complicated relationship and many changes made during weight loss surgery, the body can be affected in its entirety. Is there a link between bariatric surgery and thyroid function? In this article, we will discuss the answer to this question.

What This Article Covers:

Possible Thyroid Problems Post-Gastric Bypass

One of the most common side effects of gastric bypass is poor absorption. Different forms of weight loss surgery can affect the absorption of medications. 

This has been demonstrated in pain medication absorption after gastric bypass

There is less medication malabsorption with a gastric band and gastric sleeve procedures than in Roux en Y gastric bypass procedures.  

  • Movement of the bowel can be slowed, affecting how medicine is absorbed
  • Small stomach size means less fluid available to dissolve medication 
  • A change in the acidity of the stomach changes how drugs are dissolved
  • A smaller stomach surface means a smaller area to absorb the medication
  • Shorter intestine results in medication having less time to be absorbed

Types of Thyroid Problems

To better understand how bariatric surgery impacts thyroid function, we must recognize more than one contributing factor to thyroid dysfunction. 

An autoimmune disease called Hashimoto's, in which thyroid tissue is destroyed, cannot be reversed. These individuals will always be dependent on medication for thyroid function. 

In patients who experience hypothyroidism due to metabolic imbalance, it is common to see an improvement in thyroid function after bariatric surgery and weight loss. 

How does Bariatric surgery improve thyroid function?

Hormones in the human body do not work in isolation. Hormones influence and balance one another. When one hormone is off-balanced, the others compensate for the metabolic dysfunction by increasing or decreasing. 

This interaction between hormones contributes to obesity, in turn, exacerbating metabolic dysfunction and hormone imbalance. 

Bariatric surgery aims to promote weight loss by food restriction and/or malabsorption to correct the metabolic chaos associated with morbid obesity. 

There is a well-documented study between thyroid hormone levels, insulin resistance, and body mass index (BMI). Numerous studies show hormone changes after bariatric surgery, including an improvement of thyroid function.

Thyroid problems and bariatric surgery

How to Avoid Thyroid Complications?

Studies confirm that in obese hypothyroid patients, the requirement for thyroid replacement medication can decrease post-bariatric surgery.

However, in patients with autoimmune disease (Hashimoto's), insufficient absorption of medication can result in thyroid dysfunction with related side effects.

While side effects of gastric bypass are expected, careful and increased monitoring of thyroid hormone changes after bariatric surgery is crucial to differentiate between common side effects and complications. For example, hair loss after bariatric surgery is a common symptom of hypothyroidism too. 

Ensuring optimal thyroid function after bariatric surgery goes beyond medication adjustments. 

Although highly effective, gastric bypass risks, including malnutrition, are a reality and micronutrient deficiency is a common side effect of weight loss surgery. 

Therefore, highly bioavailable post-bariatric vitamins and bariatric meal replacements are crucial. Bariatric vitamins are specifically formulated to meet the nutritional requirements of gastric bypass patients. 

Treatment

There are no clear guidelines for managing medication in patients who have had bariatric surgery. Every patient must be considered individually.

Medication dosing often depends on the weight of the person. After bariatric surgery, most patients lose weight quickly and will need to have their medication doses adjusted.

Another reason for adjusting or stopping medication is that bariatric surgery can lead to remission of many chronic conditions you may have suffered from before surgery. Medication will need to be changed or stopped as your health improves based on your healthcare providers recommendations. 

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**This blog is for information and education purposes only. This information is not intended to substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult with your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions in regards to a medical condition. A qualified healthcare professional can best assist you in deciding whether a dietary supplement is suitable based on your individual needs.