Many bariatric patients lose weight rapidly, especially during the post-operative progression diet. The truth is that the body is not meant to lose weight so rapidly. Extreme weight loss can cause some serious side effects. We will look at some of those side effects and how you can work to derail them in your own weight loss efforts.
Personally, I’ve had to deal with some of the negative, as well as the positive, effects of extreme weight loss. The positive include the fact that I don’t need knee surgery. My pain levels are lower because I’m not so obese. I’ve been able to reduce my thyroid medication because my TSH is now within normal range. I also got rid of blood pressure meds. I was borderline hypertensive before the surgery and I am now in the normal range all the time.
I did not lose hair as a result of my extreme weight loss. Some people report that problem and I will go into it in more detail in another post. However, I have noticed some issues that I’d like to address:
- loose skin,
- muscle loss,
- vitamin deficiencies,
- and gall stones.
I’ve lost over 130 lbs in about a year. I have tons of loose skin. It’s a bit uncomfortable and causes issues. I feel unattractive and am more uncomfortable in a swimsuit this year than I was last year. I have bat wings, loose skin on my hips and thighs and a bit of a skin shelf hanging over where my stomach used to be. I feel if I lost weight slower, I could’ve reduced some of this problem. I will need skin surgery when all is said and done. I’m not sure insurance will cover it.
I go to a nutritional counselor every couple of months. She does body monitoring which tells me what my BMI is and my lean muscle mass is for example. My BMI has gone down, but so too has my lean muscle mass. I’ve lost muscle as well as fat. This is not the ideal situation. I’m trying to rectify it by working out more, but I don’t know how successful I will be.
The body goes through some stress when you lose weight quickly. I have struggled with the feeling of being tired all the time. I also have Fibromyalgia so I can’t blame it all on the extreme weight loss. I do notice it’s worse since I had the surgery. Some days I feel like I could sleep the whole day away. I just don’t give into it.
I get my blood drawn every three months. I will move to every six months after my next surgeon appointment, which is coming up next week. During that time, I have seen my numbers drop significantly. I am now deficieint in Vitamin D, which is very common for women. I take a D3 supplement suggested by my surgeon’s office. I do this every day along with the other vitamins and supplements I have to take as a result of the surgery. I have friends who have had near-life-threatening symptoms from lack of Thiamine (B1) and other vitamin problems. Take your vitamins and supplements. Please. You need them.
This one is relatively new and I may need gall bladder surgery as a result. Extreme weight loss can cause gall stones. It did for me. My gall bladder was fine a year ago. Some surgeons remove the gall bladder as a matter of course when they do the sleeve or bypass since it’s so common. Kinda scary. I know the gall bladder surgery is not a big deal and will give me loads of relief, but I’m sort of annoyed that I need more surgery because of weight loss surgery.
So, there you have it – some of the effects of extreme weight loss on the body. I hope your body handles the extreme weight loss of bariatric surgery better than mine has. I’ve been working with my nutritionist to eat more and lose less quickly. I am fine taking my time getting to goal. At some point, I think you should slow it down too, but that’s up to you.