In this week’s The Lancet, there’s a story of a British woman who underwent Gastric Bypass surgery, and returned to the hospital two short months later with some very frightening gastric bypass complications.
An article titled, Don’t Forget Multivitamins After Weight Loss Surgery tells the story:
The 27-year-old woman attended hospital with a three-week history of dizziness, low-appetite, and vomiting, having had uncomplicated gastric bypass surgery two months earlier at University College Hospital (UCH) London.
Upon discharge after her weight-loss surgery, she was prescribed the standard treatments of multivitamins and lansoprazole – a drug which prevents the stomach producing acid, according to a release of UCH. The report was published in this week’s edition of The Lancet.
Upon examination, she had rapid heartbeat and dehydration, and was provisionally diagnosed with gastric outflow obstruction; but an endoscopy revealed nothing of note.
Since the surgery the woman had lost nearly 20 kg, and blood tests gave results consistent with dehydration. She was given intravenous fluids, including glucose, and also drank high-sugar energy drinks.
The next day, she felt light headed and collapsed in the shower, and had extremely low blood pressure. Further tests revealed abnormal eye movements, hyper-reflexia in her arms, weakness of the thighs, and reduced touch sensation – all of which led to the diagnosis of thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency.
Intravenous administration of thiamine began, and the patient made a full recovery. She admitted that she had not been taking her multivitamins.
Following gastric bypass surgery, vitamin supplements are necessary to make up the shortage of vitamins entering the body through food intake. Total body thiamine stores last 18-60 days, and deficiency can cause wet beriberi (cardiovascular problems), dry beriberi (nervous system problems) or Wernicke’s encephalopathy (an acute neurological disorder characterised by eye movement problems).
The woman had symptoms of all these three conditions.
The woman admitted she had not been taking her multivitamins. Now I understand that the first week it’s very difficult to get a whole lot down. But most of us can chew up a Flintstones even then. And while that’s not sufficient for the long haul, it’s certainly better than nothing if you can’t chew the big horse pills you’ll get from some bariatric vitamin stores.
But there is absolutely no excuse for not taking any vitamins for 2 solid months.
Notice the time it takes to drain your body of thiamine/ B1: 18 to 60 days. Two and a half weeks of skipping your vitamins is enough to start some serious complications and problems.
I’m sure we’ve all had a day here or there where we’ve missed some of our vitamins. Nobody is perfect. So this fact should both comfort us – a day or two once in a while (once in a rare while) isn’t something to panic over.
But continually missing vitamins is suicide. If you’re reading this and you’ve had gastric bypass surgery already, then doggone it TAKE YOUR VITAMINS. Let this be a kick in the pants for you.
If you’re reading this, however, and you’re still trying to decide whether or not gastric bypass surgery is right for you, then most certainly let this be food for thought. Can you afford supplements every day forever? Will you take them? Can you accept the fact that you’ll have to get a handfull of pills in your mouth every single day for the rest of your life?
If not, don’t do it.