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Can Kidney Disease Increase Risks after Bariatric Surgery?

By Fernando Garcia on February 28, 2017

A doctor writing on a chartHere at Tijuana Bariatrics, it's important to us that patients understand the risks and benefits of bariatric surgery. By knowing what to expect after surgery, patients can make smart choices about their weight loss options as well as how to improve their general wellness. Undergoing a weight loss procedure is a major choice, and should be taken seriously.

While many patients benefit from the weight loss prompted by their bariatric procedure, some patients may run a risk of kidney disease after the surgery is performed. Let's explore these issues in more detail.

Chronic Kidney Disease and Obesity: The Link

Obesity and morbid obesity increase your risks of developing many health problems. In addition to joint pain, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and certain kinds of cancers, excessive body mass can also also lead to kidney problems. Chief among these issues is chronic kidney disease.

Studies have found that people who suffer from metabolic syndrome (a combination of risk factors that increase the risk of heart disease) are 20% to 30% more likely to suffer from kidney disease. Metabolic syndrome includes issues such as large waist size, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar.

Weight Loss Surgery and Chronic Kidney Disease: The Research

Research has found that people who suffer from chronic kidney disease that go on to have bariatric surgery tend to experience weight loss but also develop serious problems with kidney health.

A London study of 74 bariatric surgery patients presented at the American Society of Nephrology in 2013 found that 16 patients (22%) suffered from a post-op complication; two patients (3%) died of their post-op complications. Patients suffered from acute kidney injury, elevated blood potassium levels, nutritional deficiencies, and other issues.

Kidney Problems and Lifestyle: Dangers of High-Protein Low-Carb Diets

One of the major concerns for long-term results is the high-protein low-carb diet of people who undergo bariatric surgery. This type of diet may put a person's kidneys at risk if they suffer from kidney disease. There are two reasons for this:

  • High protein diets tend to place additional strain on the kidneys

  • The body begins to burn fat instead of glucose and carbs, increasing the risk of ketosis and subsequent kidney damage

Should People with Chronic Kidney Disease Undergo Bariatric Surgery?

Given the potential risks of complications, people who currently suffer from chronic kidney disease may not be ideal candidates for bariatric procedures. This will require a full consultation and careful assessment by a bariatric surgeon.

Those who may be at risk for kidney disease may also want to reconsider their weight loss options. We should stress again that a number of other factors will need to be considered to determine the viability and safety of a weight loss procedure.

Alternatives to Bariatric Surgery for Non-Candidates

For those who are poor candidates for weight loss surgery, natural and non-surgical weight loss may need to be considered. In essence, improvements in diet, activity level, and general wellness might be recommended over bariatric procedures simply to avoid health risks in the near future as well as down the road. These lifestyle adjustments can be discussed with your doctor.

Learn More About Bariatric Surgery

For more information about how bariatric procedures can help you achieve better health, be sure to contact our weight loss surgery center today. Our team looks forward to your visit and discussing these matters in greater detail.

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Dr. Garcia is awesome. I chose bariatrics vertical sleeve surgery. I've lost 85 lbs. since January 2017. No complications... I regret not doing this years ago. Debbie M.

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