AnemiaAfter surgery, vitamin and mineral deficiencies are common. Particularly after undergoing weight loss surgery, which limits the amount of food you can consume, patients’ bodies absorb essential nutrients differently than they did before, requiring multiple daily vitamin and mineral supplements to help prevent deficiencies, like anemia.

Anemia results specifically from a lack of iron intake or absorption. Too little folic acid and vitamin B12 can also cause this issue. Because the body requires these nutrients to make hemoglobin and healthy red blood cells, which carry oxygen from your lungs to all parts of the body and relay carbon dioxide from other parts of the body back to the lungs. Having healthy blood is essential to overall health and vitality. For this reason, preventing anemia before it develops helps you to maintain your overall health.  

As with any health question, be sure to contact a doctor you trust for answers. However, the following will help to fill you in on how bariatric anemia occurs and can be avoided.

Anemia and Bariatric Surgery

The benefits of weight loss surgery are many. However, the physical changes to your stomach can affect the level of stomach acids available to break down foods, which can lead to nutritionally-related anemia. Roux-en-Y gastric bypass procedures, in particular, include intestinal rerouting, which bypasses parts of the small intestine where much of the ingested iron is absorbed. In addition, both the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass and Gastric Sleeve reduce the volume of foods consumed, so eating foods naturally high in rion (such as beef) alone cannot prevent iron deficiency. Once the body cannot hold large volumes of food or absorb iron in the way it once did, a counter-plan must be established to retain your health.

Women who still menstruate, teens, and pregnant women are at the highest risk for developing anemia after undergoing a bariatric procedure. While surgery may alert the patient to the presence of anemia, it is not always the cause. Some patients may be anemic before undergoing surgery, which is why we run multiple labs on all of our patients well in advance of surgery.


Before & after surgery, your doctor will have you meet with one our our dietitians who can observe your post-op diet and help you enhance its nutritional value. Be sure to take your recommended vitamin and mineral supplements after surgery, even if you consume foods that are naturally high in iron (red meat/dark meat, beans & lentils, dark leafy greens & tofu).

Your dietitian will give you specific recommendations on the form & dose of iron you need on a daily basis to maintain adequate health. She/he will also give you guidelines in regards to timing & spacing of vitamin supplements and foods to avoid when taking iron. Your doctor will also have routine labwork done to closely monitor your iron status, as well as other important vitamins & minerals.

Anemia can occur in bariatric patients, whether pre-existing or caused by changes in the body. However, compliance with recommendations in regards to iron supplementation can prevent iron deficiency from ever happening.

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