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A Journal on Surgery

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Minerva Chirurgica 2016 October;71(5):322-36

language: English

Bariatric surgery and vitamin D: key messages for surgeons and clinicians before and after bariatric surgery


Department of Surgery, The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA


Obesity is the most widespread nutritional problem globally. Bariatric surgery is the preeminent long-term obesity treatment. Bariatric procedures manipulate the intestines to produces malabsorption and/or restrict the size of the stomach. The most enduring bariatric procedure is the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, which utilizes both restriction (small stomach pouch) and malabsorption (duodenum bypass). The in-vogue procedure is the vertical sleeve gastrectomy — resection of the greater curvature of the stomach (predominantly restrictive). Malabsorptive procedures function by decreasing nutrient absorption, primarily fat and fat-soluble nutrients (vitamins A, D, E, and K). Most studies of vitamin D status in bariatric surgery candidates reported a prevalence of over 50% vitamin D deficiency (<50 nmol/L), enduring post-operatively with one study reporting 65% deficient at 10 years post-bariatric surgery. Obesity is associated with chronic inflammation, which may contribute to adverse surgical outcomes, e.g. poor healing and infection. Since vitamin D deficiency is also associated with chronic inflammation, obese individuals with vitamin D deficiency have extraordinary risk of adverse surgical outcomes, particularly delayed wound healing and infection due to the role of vitamin D in re-epithelialization and innate immunity. When the risk of adverse surgical outcomes in obesity is combined with that of vitamin D deficiency, there is likely an additive or potentially a synergistic effect. Furthermore, deficiency in fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamin D, is considered a metabolic complication of bariatric surgery. Thus, determining the vitamin D status of bariatric surgery candidates and amending it preoperatively may prove greatly beneficial acutely and lifelong.

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