According to a recent study published in Obesity Surgery, rapid reduction of body weight is associated with a higher risk for foot drop. Furthermore, a separate study conducted by researchers at Mayo Clinic found that weight-loss surgery patients, specifically gastric bypass surgery patients, are at highest risk for developing foot drop due to problems with malnutrition. However, foot drop can be prevented as long as patients take steps to maintain their nutrition through vitamins and supplementation.
Gastric bypass surgery is a malabsorptive type of weight-loss surgery that involves rerouting of the intestinal tract. Weight loss occurs as a result of your body absorbing fewer calories and nutrients that would otherwise be absorbed by a portion of your small intestine. During surgery, your bariatric surgeon reroutes your small intestine so that it “bypasses” the portion of the intestine responsible for absorbing nutrients. Following gastric bypass surgery, patients are required to take vitamins and supplements for life to avoid problems with malnutrition and nutritional deficiencies.
While rapid weight loss isn’t necessarily dangerous depending on how you achieve the weight loss, it’s important that you maintain your overall health and nutrition by taking your doctor’s recommended vitamins and supplements to lower your risk for foot drop.
According to P. James Dyck, MD, a Mayo Clinic neurologist, patients who undergo gastric bypass surgery should be aware of the complications that could arise if they fail to take nutritional supplements. In the Mayo Clinic study led by Dr. Dyck, 16 percent of weight-loss surgery patients went on to develop problems with peripheral neuropathy following surgery, which mainly occurred as a result of these patients failing to stay involved with nutritional after-care programs.
Despite the possible complications that can occur as a result of malnutrition after bariatric surgery, Mayo Clinic bariatric surgeon Michael Sarr, MD, says that there are far worse risks associated with remaining obese. Dr. Dyck also suggests that when deciding to undergo weight-loss surgery, it’s best to choose a clinic that offers a weight-loss program, and not just the surgery by itself. Considering bariatric surgery is a life-changing operation, patients require long-term nutritional care and education.