Gastric Sleeve and Anemia: What Patients Should Know About Their Diet After Surgery

May 16, 2015 — by Fernando Garcia
Tags: Gastric Sleeve Side Effects Anemia Diet

A sleeve gastrectomy diagramDr. Fernando Garcia and Dr. David Vazquez are proud to serve patients at their Tijuana weight loss surgery center. They offer safe and effecitve weight loss surgery procedures such as gastric sleeve as well as helpful advice regarding life after a bariatric procedure has been performed.

Dietary issues tend to be a major concern among weight loss surgery patients. With that in mind, let's look at the issue of anemia and iron deficiency after bariatric surgery.

What is anemia?

Anemia refers to a condition in which a person lacks healthy red blood cells (hemoglobin) to carry oxygen through the body. People will often feel fatigued or short of breath as symptoms of anemia because their body isn't getting all of the oxygen it needs to function at its best possible level. In a number of cases, the anemia is caused by an insufficient amount of iron in a person’s system/diet.

It's estimated that 3.5 million people in the United States are affected by anemia, and that women tend to run a higher risk of the condition than men.

Are there issues with iron deficiency after bariatric surgery?

Yes, in some instances.

In general, research shows that there is a higher instance of anemia and other issues related to iron deficiency when a patient has undergone gastric bypass surgery. Poor absorption of iron is more common in these patients.

That said, there are a host of factors that can result in iron deficiency and other nutritional health issues with other weight loss surgery patients who have undergone procedures such as the gastric sleeve or gastric banding.

Why does anemia occur after gastric bypass surgery?

One reason for this is that the change in the digestive tract has resulted in a less efficient means of fully absorbing the iron that one ingests. The decreased amount of stomach acid is also thought to contribute to these issues.

As far as iron deficiency with other kinds of weight loss surgery procedures, a common issue that leads to anemia is a poorly considered diet. When a person does not consider what he or she is eating and how it meets the daily nutritional needs of his/her body, it's possible to simply miss out on certain vitamins and minerals throughout the course of the day.

What can bariatric surgery patients do to prevent anemia?

In order to prevent anemia, patients should consider having iron-rich foods as part of their diet. This includes red and white meat, liver, lentils, beans, and spinach. Patients can also consider cooking their foods in a cast iron skillet, which can boost iron levels in meals.

Taking vitamin supplements is also a good idea for addressing iron deficiencies. An iron supplement taken in combination with vitamin C will aid in absorption. It's important that patients avoid taking calcium or drinking tea within two hours of consuming iron-rich foods or an iron supplement as this can affect iron absorption.

If you need help figuring out an ideal diet that meets your daily nutritional needs after weight loss surgery, don't hesitate to speak with our team about your concerns. We will be more than happy to offer tips and pointers.

Learn More About Gastric Sleeve Surgery

For more information about gastric sleeve surgery and how it can help you lead a healthier lifestyle, it's important that you contact our weight loss surgery center today. Dr. Fernando Garcia and Dr. David Vazquez will work with you to ensure that you receive excellent medical treatment that helps you lose weight safely and quickly.