Bariatric surgery and thyroid issues
David Podkameni, MD, is a general surgeon and Medical Director of the Weight Loss Center 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: The first answer is yes, having thyroid problems; specifically hypothyroidism can make weight loss a challenge but do not preclude you from having bariatric surgery. Bariatric surgery will address not just the caloric problems related to obesity but also metabolic issues. Bariatric surgery will not directly affect in anyway thyroid problems or thyroid hormonal imbalance, this should be addressed separately by your PCP or endocrinologist.
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.