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How good is Bariatric Surgery for Thyroid problems?

Bariatric surgery is a type of surgery that helps severely and very severely obese individuals to lose weight. Bariatric surgery comprises of different surgical procedures like gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy, mini gastric bypass, etc. Many studies point to the fact that Bariatric surgery greatly reduces comorbid conditions. One comorbid condition that has been reported due to severe obesity is hypothyroidism or thyroid function being affected. Does bariatric surgery affect thyroid functions in a positive way? Let us find out.

Hypothyroidism as Comorbid Condition in Obese Individuals

When the thyroid gland produces low amounts of thyroid hormone than the required level, the condition is termed as Hypothyroidism. Among the many comorbid conditions reported and recorded among severely and very severely obese individuals is hypothyroidism. People with this condition are administered with LT4 or levothyroxine which is a synthetic alternative to the thyroid hormone, thyroxin. This is the medication generally prescribed for Hypothyroidism.

Study of Effect of Bariatric Surgery on Hypothyroidism

Recent studies have shown evidence that bariatric surgery affects the thyroid function especially in people with hypothyroidism and are on thyroid hormone replacement therapy.

A study with 93 participants was conducted, out of which 85 (91%) were women whose average age was 46.6. 77 individuals (82.3%) underwent Gastric Sleeve surgery and the remaining 16 (17.2%) underwent Gastric Bypass Roux-en-Y surgery. The 93 participants were selected on the basis of the presence of hypothyroidism. Out of the 93 patients, 83 were undergoing Thyroid Hormone Replacement (THR) therapy.

The average BMI before surgery was 43.7 and it decreased to 34.4 in 6 months and 29.8 at 12 months. The average Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) was at an average of 3.9mlU/L which decreased to 3.0mlU/L and later stabilized to 3.0mlU/L at 12months. Most of the participants under THR therapy were active users of LT4 (levothyroxine) which is a synthetic alternative to thyroxin used by patients with hypothyroidism.

The average LT4 dosage before surgery was 98.4μg. The average dose reduced to 89.7μg after 12 months. The study revealed that ten patients 12% required lower doses of LT4. Interestingly, 11 people (13%) stopped using LT4 altogether.

Hypothyroidism after Bariatric Surgery

After undergoing bariatric surgery, it was noticed that the average need for LT4 got reduced after 12 months post-surgery. The study also revealed that about 13% of the patients who underwent bariatric surgery had stopped using LT4 altogether. For people who have a doubt of whether Bariatric Surgery causes thyroid problem, the answer is a resounding “No”. Actually speaking, Bariatric Surgery resolves the condition of hypothyroidism.

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