Gastric Bypass Complications

July 27, 2011 will mark my 7 year RNY gastric bypass post-op anniversary. I will not be celebrating.

Like most, I sailed through the actual surgical procedure without complications. I had no major issues or problems.  I ignored my surgeon’s supplemental advice of 2 Flintstones chewables and Carnation Instant Breakfast as his recommended ‘supplemental’ advice; and began taking bariatric specific supplements as soon as I got home from the hospital.

Imagine my shock when 3 years later I had a mild heart attack due to severally low ferritin and iron levels.  The form of iron I was taking, was not what  I needed.  I also learned that the portion of our small intestines that does the best job absorbing iron – I had removed as part of my bypass surgery.

Then, I was diagnosed with osteoporosis and severally low vitamin D and zinc.  How could this be?  I was taking my supplements.

Apparently taking supplements – even those designed for bariatric post-ops – is no guarantee you’re getting the nutrients you need.  Deciphering blood work results is tricky, as not all is always as it appears at face value on test results either.  You have to know what to look for, to know how deficient you are and in what nutrients.

Adjusting supplements is an art form.  You take more, but how much more.  You adjust your dose, wait 3, 4 or 6 months – test again, adjust again.  Taking too much of some supplements can be dangerous, and even with malabsorption, apparently this can happen.

If you are one who is a gastric bypass post-op who had a malabsorptive procedure, it is urgent you do three things:

  1. Make an appointment with your doctor, or hematologist ASAP and get a full panel of testing done to check all of your nutrient levels, including thyroid
  2. Get a dexa bone scan to check your bone density
  3. Take your supplements, including your high quality protein shake, faithfully every single day. Note: you will have to take supplements more than just once per day.  I’m currently taking supplements 4 times per day.  Check your levels, supplement and then test again and adjust as needed for you.

If you are feeling tired, no energy, experiencing symptoms of depression, numbness, tingling, etc…. you need to get to your doctor now.  Please.  We had this surgery to get healthier, and that’s not always what happens for everyone.

Find a support system to help you, keep you on track with your diet, exercise and what you’re experiencing.  This will help you.

To your health,


P.S. Reply below and let me know if you have experienced any gastric bypass complications since having your surgery. What issues are you having?  What type of surgery did you have?  How far post-op are you?


  1. Kathy webne says

    It has been 7 years for me also. I had the same surgery as you. Unfortunately, I have not been very compliant about my vitamins and protein. I am now severly anemic and have an appointment with a hematologist this week. Perhaps it’s partly my fault, but the bariatric office didn’t really follow up in the following years. I would love to find a group of others also and get advice from their experiences. Kathy

    • Traci says

      I hear ya Kathy. Hope the hematologist can help get a supplement schedule that works for you. Have you tried other online WLS support sites and forums? You might find a local support group via one of those forums. ~ Traci

      • Debbie says

        I had RNY 10 yrs ago. I now have osteopenia even though I have been faithful about taking vitamins and supplements. I also had very little follow up with GB surgeon. I regret everyday that I had GB.

        • says

          Same here Debbie. I would never recommend this surgery.

  2. Di says

    Hi, I know that this is an old post. I just want to vent about the complications that I have experienced as a 7 year lap-rny patient. I had my surgery in 12/2004 and experienced some hemmorhaging and recieved 2 units of blood. I was very diet compliant and lost the weight and co-morbs were gone. However, I was not very vitamin compliant, I discovered 2 years ago about my severe anemia, my insurance ended, I ignored the labs. Fast forward to May 2011, Severe fatigue, shortness of breath, tingling extremeties, ringing in ears, depression, anxiety life is not good. Got with the doc had labs drawn, sent to ER for blood transfusion, then to hematologist, only to find out that my “Insurance” does not cover WLS anemia complications, so no IV iron is covered. Words don’t explain my feelings on this, so whilst I save the money for purchasing my Venofer out of pocket, I am dosing myself with high doses of Carbonyl iron, heme iron, and poly iron, also taking all of my other vitamins Centrum silver chewable, Mag oxide, Calcium citrate, and I have always had a chronic constipation issue. I have been dependent on fleet liquid suppositories and enemas for years, I am now adding colace, mag ox and miralax to move things along. My quest is to get better. I am on Paxil 20 mg for the depression and anxiety. WLS is life changing and can be great and the risks often become vitamin deficient realities. In 2011, I was afraid for my mortal life. I am now believing for God to help me with my health and strength. Vitamins are my life, I am taking vitamins 6 times daily, I have them sorted into a HUGE 7 day pill organizer like an old person. This is my life, I am only 42 with three daughters 24,21 and 14 and a DH who’s the best. God Bless you all and let us keep each other lifted up in prayer and support. People ostracize us for taking the easy way to weight loss, I beg to differ however, this may be worse than my co-morbs were.

    • Traci says

      {{{Di}}} Girl I feel for ya. I have found the vitamins I get from to be the best quality, all in forms that are best for us and they work. I am allergic to all the infusable forms of iron, so that’s no longer an option for me. I tried some liquid iron and other things and started taking the carbonyl iron with vitamin C from Vitalady and my recent labs show that’s working!

      Regarding your symptoms: another thing that can mimic your fatigue, etc… is B12 deficiency (pernicious anemia) and low calcium (which can cause hyperparathyroidism) has many similar symptoms to both hypothyroidism and iron deficiency anemia.

      So make sure you’re taking lots of calcium, getting in your Vitamin D, carbonyl iron taken with Vitamin C, along with all your other vitamins. Adjust as needed, depending on your labs.

      Keep me posted on how you’re doing!

  3. says

    I had my gastric bypass 10 months ago, lost 100lbs, Im very compliant with protein and bariatric vitamins already had iron infusion for anemia. Now I am so tired, pain in my bones is horrible. I wasnt told that this could happen. I really feel tired, getting out of bed is so hard I have to force myself. I went to a seminar before the operation and saw all the specialists I was told to see. They gave me an ok for operation. I just cant believe how bad I feel.

  4. says

    if I knew these things would happen I would not have had the surgery

  5. Rachel says

    I had the RNY open gastric bypass in July 2007. The hospital gave nutritional classes on food only & didn’t seem to know or if they knew, didn’t pass along any info about What is now being referred to as “Malabsorptive Syndrome.” They instructed us on how to eat, and added we should supplement with protein shakes, but didn’t mention we could have short &/or long-term issues with the absorption of anything good from food. Neither was any clue given to the fact that many of us, esp those who suffered previously from type 2 diabetes like myself, already either having problems, due to the RX meds & insulin irregularities, with candida/yeast overgrowth/increasing levels of bad flora vs. good & leaky gut syndrome, where the candida gains control & eats through the intestinal walls, allowing these micro-isms to enter the blood stream & attack every organ & area of the body, and the bypass only increases the likelihood of this occurring.. also with the bypass, my understanding is that stomach acids are already reduced as a result of the surgery, as well as part of the intestines cut, are responsible for further breakdown of foods, therefore, this causes much food to go undigested, obviously not being absorbed also, and so any food with bacteria, micro-organisms, etc, aren’t being destroyed by the lacking stomach acids, being passed ultimately into our remaining intestinal track, where it sits & rots, causing gases to rise, distended painful stomach issues & flatulence, possible constipation, and if the leaky gut is present, these toxins also can get released into the bloodstream, causing the body to respond to these toxins as foreign & attack them, which lowers the immune system & can result in pain, swelling, illness, fatigue, immune disorders, lupus, fibromyalgia, chronic pain, chronic fatigue syndrome, weakness, etc.. All of which I personally suffer from (I’m also severely anemic). I have only recently become aware of all of this, the need for supplementation of vitamins & protein, as my health is declining rapidly, lost my job of nearly ten years due to these health issues. I’ve dedicated much time to finding a way around this problem & to restore my health.. I’ve spent many days, hours in deep research. For me, so far, I’ve found a lot of info on the needed supplemental vitamins/proteins, but I desire optimal absorption. I would like to share that I have learned that many products for sale, even liquids, have the wrong combinations (iron without C) or have harmful chemicals added, or are full of synthetic vitamins, which are not the best form of the vitamin, but by-products, man-made, many low in quality, most of the actual supply being flushed out through the kidneys, which is hard on them. Another thing I look for in a liquid supplement for health benefits, like herbs or fruits & veggies, chlorella, spirulina, etc, is that the best chance to get something truly nutritionally rich, grown from nutrient rich soil, free of chemicals & pesticides, is to make sure the supplement is listed & certified as organic. I have also been supplementing with Profect Brand Oasis natural, liquid protein juices (25 grms per tube). I recently purchased a very high HP blender for smoothies & a juicer (I juice combinations of organic or local farm-grown, chemical-free fruits & veggies). I am due for blood labs in August, and I’ll see how I am, though my docs say he’s been testing for vitamin levels & other than anemia requiring infusions, he says I’m doing fine with my levels otherwise. I don’t believe that can be true with how ill & weak I am. I’m still researching the best, non-synthetic liquid, softgel or chewable/sublingual supplements, but I will say that I take a massive amount of probiotics (30 billion live per day), 4000IU liquid vitamin D per drop, sublingual vitamin B12, 5000mcgs, fiber, Multi-Enzyme Supp before every meal/mini-meal & a chewable Calcium-magnesium supp to name a few. I’m still looking into a better Iron liquid (I like Florastor, but have to add powdered Vita C to it) & a non-synthetic liquid or chewable multivitamin. I also eat an organic vegetarian, processed-free, gluten-free diet, to help with any additional pain/inflammation prevention. My search & research isn’t over. I’m only sharing what I’ve found & believe to be right for me, and if it’s helpful for others, that’s great, because this info has been hard to come by, not so easy to find. I plan to blog all of the info I gather once I’m done. For now, my resolve & faith remains strong, in spite of the circumstances. I’m a survivor, a fighter.. Best wishes to all of you who are going through these same or similar issues due to WLS. Much Love, R xo

  6. says

    I had RY gastric bypass in 1998, and at that time, was basically told to take a children’s chewable and expect to throw up. After years of being B12 deficient, severely anemic to point of hospitalization for iron infusions and blood transfusions, weight loss and some regain, loss of hair, and eventually loss of teeth to dentures, thyroid out of whack and finally back to normal, I still feel totally unsure of what to eat or not eat, what and how many supplements to take each day, and go the gammit between a bariatric surgeon who says if it’s not surgery related, go to a family doctor (how do I know for sure if a problem is surgery related??) and the family doctor have no familiarity with how my ‘plumbing’ is rerouted inside and I end up throwing up my hands and not seeing any of them. Please help!

  7. rudy says

    Hi my name is Rudy,I am from Fresno CA and I had my surgery done back in 2005 ,I lost about 100 lbs then in 2007 I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, b manic depression chronic fatigue chronic mygraines chronic headaches numb hands and fingers loss of hand control chronic pain all over had to quite working due to all the complications I still have not had a doctor tell me that these complications are because of the gastric bypass surgery now I am having some new complications such as low blood pressure and low blood sugar and causing me to pass out and now everything I eat makes me feel sick to my stomach and it sometimes feels like I’m having a heart attack ,and not being able to remember things such as when I’m writing things down or listening to what other people are talking about and it seems like all the complications are getting worse and I can’t get the doctors to believe me,the seem to think that I am a hypocondriack because I complain a lot and I tell them that the meds aren’t working, I am 56 years old and I have gained back 65 lbs and I eat once a day because of the nuasea.

    • says

      Hi Rudy
      I’m going to tell you the same thing I tell most folks these days: get a book called The Virgin Diet and follow it. The premise is that you eliminate 7 foods from your diet that are often the cause of weight loss resistance because they actually can be triggering food sensitivities in people, and they don’t know it. All 7 need to be eliminated, but one of the main ones is: gluten! So try this and let me know how you do on it.

      Also, get your thyroid levels checked. I now have Hashimoto’s (the autoimmune type of hypothyroidism) and am on medication. I’ve seen a little relief, but need my meds adjusted.

      Please let me know how you’re doing!


  8. Debby says

    Hello, I had my gastric bypass over 10 years and now suffer from fibromyalgia, depression, chronic fatigue chronic mygraines chronic headaches numb hands and fingers. I really cannot find any doctor that can help… other than say I have fibromyalgia… I believe that its from the gastric bypass. I am at times xxlow for vitamin D. I really don’t know what to do as I don’t sleep and have no energy…. sometimes I don’t eat – as I only have a limited energy level. Is there any doctor experienced with the bypass that would understand and can treat someone that may not have stayed on a vitamin, protein drink plan… I feel like every day its getting worse and even though I tell the doctors I had gastric bypass and my issues may be a result of this…. I cant get any help – only being told I have fibromyalgia and there is only limit treatment.
    This is the 1st time I have found “Others” with gastric bypass that seem to have related issues.
    Has anyone with gastric bypass – that had major issues similar to fibromyalgia, no energy, no sleep, chronic fatgue, ect… been treated by someone – and feels close to normal now???
    If so please leave message and help others searching for help.
    Sincerely Debby

    • says

      Hi Debby
      You’re definitely not alone! In the 8+ years since my gastric bypass, I’ve learned a lot more about the various causes for obesity. One thing that can cause weight loss resistance and even weight re-gain after gastric bypass is gluten! Seriously, food sensitivities/allergies causes your body try to attack the offending food, and over time, can result in malabsorption!

      Now for those of us who had gastric bypass, we have surgically induced malabsorption; just imagine if we had malabsorption of nutrients and our body in a fight against food we were eating AND we had insult to injury with weight loss surgery.

      It doesn’t fix the root cause of the problem: food sensitivities.

      My advice is to try a food elimination diet to see if you could have food sensitivities. One of my clients is JJ Virgin, and her book “The Virgin Diet” discusses this very issue and how to eliminate the 7 most offending foods that trigger sensitivities and see how it affects you.

      Most autoimmunue diseases (like Fibro) are complex and the exact reason why some get it, and others don’t, isn’t known. I have every symptom you mentioned, but I do not have fibro! Could the malabsorption trigger fibro in some – quite possibly. Whether that malabsorption is from gluten intolerance or weight loss surgery – the one common element is malabsorption.

      I would try JJ’s diet, continue with your supplements and see how you feel. Please keep in touch!


  9. dawn says

    Rachel-I would like to visit with you about your condition-I am having the same issues and would like to learn more. how can i reach you?

  10. joyta says

    As a post gastric bypass patient I had problems with constipation for the first time in my life. My doctor recommended The Lady Soma Fiber Cleanse & after 3 days of taking the capsules there was no strain, no stress. Every morning (without fail) I would have a nice bowel movement. It’s been 3 months since that experience, & I’ve gotten my mother using Lady Soma too,

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