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Iron deficiency after bariatric surgery: what is the real problem?

  • Nele Steenackers (a1), Bart Van der Schueren (a1), Ann Mertens (a1), Matthias Lannoo (a1) (a2), Tara Grauwet (a3), Patrick Augustijns (a4) and Christophe Matthys (a1)...


The growing prevalence of obesity explains the rising interest in bariatric surgery. Compared with non-surgical treatment options, bariatric surgery results in greater and sustained improvements in weight loss, obesity associated complications, all-cause mortality and quality of life. These encouraging metabolic and weight effects come with a downside, namely the risk of nutritional deficiencies. Particularly striking is the risk to develop iron deficiency. Postoperatively, the prevalence of iron deficiency varies between 18 and 53 % after Roux-en-Y gastric bypass and between 1 and 54 % after sleeve gastrectomy. Therefore, preventive strategies and effective treatment options for iron deficiency are crucial to successfully manage the iron status of patients after bariatric surgery. With this review, we discuss the risks and the contributing factors of developing iron deficiency after bariatric surgery. Furthermore, we highlight the discrepancy in the diagnosis of iron deficiency, iron deficiency anaemia and anaemia and highlight the evidence supporting the current nutritional recommendations in the field of bariatric research. In conclusion, we advocate for more nutrition-related research in patient populations in order to provide strong evidence-based guidelines after bariatric surgery.


Corresponding author

*Corresponding author: C. Matthys, email


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