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What type of follow-up care will my bariatric weight loss surgeon use? Is it safe?

Important factors for patients and their surgeons to keep in mind

It would be dangerous and risky to think of bariatric surgery as a one-time stop for a healthy weight and lifestyle. There are two important things that every bariatric patient should remember when it comes to post-surgical care.

1. In the short-term after a bariatric weight loss surgery, pay attention and be vocal about pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. They could be telltale signs that something is wrong.
2. In the long-term, keep a close eye on nutrition.

Signs of trouble

Everyone handles pain differently. It seems that some people barely wince if a nail goes through their foot. On the other hand, some people are extremely sensitive to pain. And then others are in between these extremes. After surgery, some degree of pain is expected. The same is true for other signs and symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

The challenge for bariatric weight loss surgeons, nurses, and staff members is being able to distinguish between the normal variation of signs and symptoms that patients may experience after bariatric surgery, as opposed to something more that’s a sign of a serious complication.

Some of the complications that occur after bariatric weight loss surgery include:
• Gastric outlet syndrome
• Strictures
• Perforations, cuts, or leaks

When these problems occur, frequently the only way to solve them is to return to the operating room. Timely diagnosis and treatment can mean the difference between recovery and a long hospital course to address serious conditions like infection, sepsis, and malnutrition.

Don’t lose sight of nutrition

One of the paradoxes or challenges of bariatric weight loss surgery is the fallout from the intended results of the procedure. Bariatric surgery alters the natural gastrointestinal anatomy and physiology. Some procedures deliberately prevent bile and enzymes from being introduced to the digestive process, or bypass tracts of the intestines that have the role of absorbing nutrients.

Of course, these surgical changes assist patients in weight loss, but those positive steps must be balanced against the need for adequate nutrition.

Experts recommend that patients receive follow-up care with a bariatric surgeon for two years after a bariatric weight loss procedure. Under the standard of care, these post-operative visits should include laboratory and blood work to look for metabolic and nutritional issues. Many patients will benefit from a dietitian’s services, including recommendations for intake of proteins, fluids, and various supplements that may be necessary based on the type of bariatric surgery.

With an altered anatomy and physiology, it’s important for bariatric patients to stay on top of nutrition. That’s because serious nutritional deficits are sometimes hard to correct. One of the worst and most dreaded nutritional complications of gastric bypass surgery is Wernicke’s encephalopathy, a permanent brain injury caused by a thiamine (Vitamin B1) deficiency. You can read more about that condition here.

If you’ve been seriously injured because of poor bariatric surgical care in Texas, then contact a top-rated experienced Texas medical malpractice lawyer for a free consultation about your potential case.

Robert Painter is an award-winning medical malpractice attorney at Painter Law Firm PLLC, in Houston, Texas. He is a former hospital administrator who represents patients and family members in medical negligence and wrongful death lawsuits all over Texas. Contact him by calling 281-580-8800 or emailing him right now.

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