Bariatric surgery and thyroid issues
Rob Schuster, MD, FACS is a bariatric surgeon and medical director of General Surgery at Banner Gateway Medical Center. For more information on this topic, talk with your doctor or call (480) 543-2606.
Question: I have trouble losing weight due to a thyroid issue. Will bariatric surgery work for me?
Answer: Having a thyroid condition does not eliminate you from consideration for bariatric surgery, though it is an issue that affects your overall health and should be treated. Bariatric surgery is widely accepted as the most effective treatment for obesity, but numerous factors are used to determine whether the approach is the right weight loss strategy for you, including your age, weight, your ability to exercise and follow a prescribed diet, and on a social level, your motivation and available support from family and friends.
Before considering bariatric surgery, it is important to confirm that your thyroid condition is not the root cause of your weight problem. If you suffer from hypothyroidism, meaning your thyroid does not produce enough hormone to adequately regulate your body temperature and heart rate, your metabolism may slow as well. This slowing can lead to weight gain and difficultly losing weight, particularly if the thyroid condition is not treated. Thankfully, most thyroid conditions can be successfully managed with medication. If your thyroid issue is being treated and your hormone levels are in the normal range, other health and lifestyle issues may be affecting your ability to lose weight.
A bariatric surgeon can talk with you about a variety of health issues that may be contributing to your weight, to determine if you are a strong candidate for the surgery. If a bariatric procedure is recommended, your surgeon will need to check your thyroid levels because hypothyroidism can cause complications after surgery. Fortunately, thyroid medications can still be absorbed by your body following surgery, so the bariatric procedure itself should not impact your thyroid function.