Weight Loss Surgery Increases Fracture Risk

Weight loss surgery patients are twice as likely to break a bone, according to Mayo Clinic researchers.

weight loss surgery increases bone fracture riskIf you’ve had weight loss surgery, watch your step – you may be at risk of breaking a bone. That’s the advice of researchers at Mayo Clinic behind a major new study of fractures in weight loss surgery patients.

The study’s results, which were presented at the 91st annual meeting of the Endocrine Society in Washington, DC, revealed that people who have had weight loss surgery are nearly twice as likely as others to break a bone.

Ironically, most researchers think that obesity actually protects people against osteoporosis and related fractures, since the rate of bone breakdown and formation is faster in obese people.

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However, some of the researchers involved in the study think that the accelerated bone turnover after weight loss surgery might be boosting patients’ risk of fractures rather than decreasing them — fractures of the hand and foot, anyway.

The study is based on a review of nearly 100 surgical cases at Mayo Clinic over 21 years. Data from the study suggests that bariatric surgery patients run a 300 percent greater risk of hand fractures, and a foot fracture risk nearly four times greater.

Although the researchers involved in the study insist that further studies are needed to definitively link weight loss surgery and the increased risk of bone damage, they suggest that taking high doses of calcium and vitamin D supplements after surgery may help reduce the risks.