Weight loss and medications after bariatric surgery article written for ObesityHealth.com by Dr. Guillermo Alvarez
June 16, 2017
Should you continue your medications after weight loss surgery? Will reducing the medications effect how you feel? What medications do you advise against? What can you expect long term? These are just a few of the many questions I answer on an almost daily basis. I understand you have concerns, you’re worried and maybe even anxious. You’ve been dependent on those medications for years and now you’re told you might be able to reduce them or eliminate them altogether. Sounds too good to be true, right?
Those suffering from diabetes, high blood pressure, gastroparesis, depression, and even joint pain (just to name a few) take a regimen of daily medications in order to maintain the quality of life they need to survive. Yet, these patients are usually the first to proclaim their freedom from medications after weight loss surgery. It’s not a miracle…it’s just the science of weight loss surgery. Why?
The more weight you lose…the less medication is needed.
Let’s Talk About Medications After Weight Loss Surgery
Did you know the average morbidly obese patient takes on average 6 medications per day to be able to live their life?
Those medications help regulate the body and compensate for what is missing. So, the moment you start losing weight you may experience a reduction in the need for the very medications you’ve been so dependent on. It can be frightening but also overwhelming.
Oh, but you say you’ve tried dieting, and using weight loss pills and low impact exercising and you didn’t see a difference. And that would be true. Those things alone just don’t have the power to change how your body deals or adjusts so your medications stay the same.
Sometimes when you diet; you skip meals, consume the wrong foods and get advice from people who really don’t understand your body chemistry and instead of losing weight, you gain weight. Instead of reducing the need for certain medications you actually increase your need.
Oh, and don’t get me started on weight loss pills. Sure, you might have seen an advertisement that touts how much weight you will lose, but in most cases, those pills could interact with your daily medication and cause all sorts of side effects.
Weight Loss Surgery Resets Your Body
This is the benefit to weight loss surgery…it helps reset your body. As you start losing the pounds, you may notice you feel healthier, you’re more energetic and the need to continue with some of your needed medications is reduced. That’s a good thing. Embrace it.
Weight loss surgery is a life-changing event that does more than make you thinner. It saves your life. Imagine being 50, 75, 100, 150 pounds lighter, how much happier do you think you’ll be?
Well, once you start losing weight, you’ll also notice that your body doesn’t need the medication it was so dependent on for so long.
Now, this doesn’t mean the day you receive your weight loss surgery you immediately stop your medication. No! What this means is that the process takes time. It’s not immediate. Be patient. And consult with your primary care physician.
Consult Your Doctor Before You Stop Your Medication
Just don’t stop your medication because you think it’s time. Wait until your PCP tells you it’s okay. Under no circumstances should you reduce your own medications without first consulting with your doctor or primary care physician. In most cases, they (your doctors) will adjust your medication four to five weeks after surgery and then will evaluate you on a monthly basis.
This so important! And I can’t emphasize this enough. Just because you’re losing weight and feeling awesome, and can feel that you might not need the medication, you must never adjust your own medications, please check with your doctor first.
As you heal after weight loss surgery, I would I recommend you stay away from any medications that might harm your stomach.
What are they, you might be asking?
These are ones that cause the most irritation to your stomach, have way too many side effects and sadly the easiest to buy over the counter.
They’re classified as NSAID’s or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. They have names like Aleve, Celebrex, Motrin, Advil, Daypro, and Aspirin. The side effects of these NSAIDs include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, rash, dizziness, headaches, drowsiness, ulcers, and prolonged bleeding after surgery. Raise your hand if any of those things sound appealing. So, honestly, why bother? If you’re going to strive to be healthier then why take an over the counter drug that could cause you harm? Just say no to NSAIDs!
So, Are You Ready To Be Thinner And Healthier?
Are you ready to embrace the feeling of reducing or eliminating your daily medications?
Then I would suggest learning as much as you can about bariatric weight loss surgery. Discover for yourself information about the VSG (Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy) or commonly referred to as the Gastric Sleeve, learn about the Band, Gastric Bypass (RNY) or the Duodenal Switch (DS) and uncover the pros and cons about each one so you are comfortable with how they will work for you.
Whichever method you chose for yourself, make it a point to create a medication/weight board. Write down all your medications you currently take. Then after weight loss surgery, at least once a week, place on the chart your weight and what dosages you are taking of each medication. As the weeks progress, and you are cleared by your PCP to reduce the dosage, make note of it on the board. And as time goes by, those medications may not be needed at all. But remember to stay away from NSAIDs and your stomach will thank you.
Now you might be wondering what the long-term effects are when it comes to not needing those medications any longer, right?
Well, what I can tell you, based on helping over 11,000 patients, the long-term effects of weight loss surgery are simply amazing. You’ll be thinner, healthier, more active and not as dependent on those medications.