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Patients After Bariatric Surgery Continue To Lose Bone Even After Their Weight Stabilizes

Update Date: Jun 25, 2014 09:51 AM EDT

For at least two years after bariatric surgery, patients continue to lose bone, even after their weight stabilizes, according to a new study. Gastric bypass is one of the most common type of weight loss surgery. 

"The long-term consequences of this substantial bone loss are unclear, but it might put them at increased risk of fracture, or breaking a bone," said Elaine Yu, MD, MSc, the study's principal investigator and an endocrinologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, in the press release. "Therefore, bone health may need to be monitored in patients undergoing bariatric surgery."

Previously the same team had reported that patients who have gastric bypass lose bone mineral density within the first year after the surgery. Losing bone mineral density is an indicator of bone fragility. Since the rate of bone loss was high, researchers continued to monitor them in the study. 

The bone loss in the surgical patients, Yu said, occurred despite the fact that they were not losing any more weight in the 2nd year after surgery and had stable blood levels of calcium and vitamin D. "Therefore, the cause of the bone loss is probably not related to weight loss itself," she said, according to the press release.

However, none of the gastric bypass patients has required osteoporosis treatment. 

"The question is, when is the bone loss going to stop? Over time this could be a problem in terms of fracture," Yu added.

"This surgery is the most effective treatment for severe obesity and offers phenomenal health benefits."

The results of the study were presented at the joint meeting of the International Society of Endocrinology and the Endocrine Society. 

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