In a study that is apparently surprising even doctors, it appears that people who undergo weight-loss surgery may have up to twice the risk of broken bones later in their lives.
Doctors aren't yet sure what it is about the surgery that increases the rate of thinning bones and risk of breakage. Further study is under way. But if you've had bariatric surgery or are considering it, this is important information for you to have.
The rate of such procedures as gastric-bypass and lap-band surgery have skyrocketed in the last few years. What used to be a fairly rare procedure that was used only after all other paths were tried has become something that is advertised like a mass-market product: television commercials and Sunday circulars in the newspaper. People talk about having "gotten their lives back" with the surgeries because they got rid of their extra weight. Television stars who have had the surgery seem to shrink overnight. It seems like it's an "easy" solution to obesity, especially in a world where we want everything right now. Even teenagers are having the surgery more often.
I have a beloved friend who, after many efforts to lose weight, underwent gastric bypass surgery a few years ago. It is a tough recovery from surgery and a tough lifestyle to live. She has kept all the weight off (more than 100 pounds for more than 4 years) and the surgery still affects her life every day. It was the right decision for her at the time; I wonder, however, if the possibility of endangering her bones might have changed her mind.
Here's some information from the story:
"Doctors have long noted that the radical weight loss can speed bone turnover until the breakdown of old bone outpaces the formation of new bone. Silverberg cites recent studies showing that a year after gastric bypass, adults' hip density drops as much as 10 percent, raising concern about a common fracture site of old age. (Stomach banding causes less thinning because it doesn't alter nutrient absorption as much.)
"No one knows if teen bones react similarly, but it's an important issue because almost half of peak bone mass develops during adolescence.
"To see if such changes translate into fractures, the Mayo team is comparing the medical records of 300 adults who've had bariatric surgery with similarly aged Minnesotans who haven't. A quarter of the 142 surgery recipients studied so far experienced at least one fracture in the following years, Mayo's Dr. Elizabeth Haglind told the endocrinology meeting. Six years post-surgery, that group had twice the average risk."
Here's the complete story:
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