The Unspoken Side Effects of Weight Loss Surgery

By: Laura Greaney, MSN Nutritionist

Prior to bariatric surgery you should have an in-depth idea of possible side effects and complications of the actual surgery. You will learn about possible slipped bands, erosions, gastric leaks, dehydration, and vomiting. However, what about common side effects people fail to mention. Things that most of you will experience but may not realize if it’s “normal.” Remember, side effects do not mean they WILL happen to you but there is always that possibility.

Hair Loss

The normal timespan hair is in the telogen phase (resting/dormant) before falling out is 100-120 days. Certain stressors can increase hair follicles into the telogen phase. If you take away nutritional deficiencies, bariatric patients are at risk of hair loss due to anesthesia, major surgery, rapid weight loss and modified anorexia (due to great restriction for the first few months). After weight loss surgery, your hair will transfer into what is medically referred to as telogen effluvium. Due to this, hair loss could last roughly 6 months after surgery until your hair has time to regrow. The best preventative measures you can take is to make sure you are taking your vitamins and getting in adequate protein.

Bad Breath

The first few days after surgery the only thing patients are able to consume are clear, hydrating fluids. Because of this, the body is forced to burn off fat for energy instead of burning off carbohydrates. This process is called ketosis. Ketosis is a metabolic process where stored fat is broken down for energy resulting in higher levels of ketones. These higher levels of ketones include breath acetone which is responsible for the sweet odor of the breath. Usually extreme weight loss happens within the first two months, then starts to level off. Therefore, your displeasing breath should return to normal within 2-3 months.

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