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Category: Thyroid

Thyroid Medication Absorption And Weight Loss Surgery

June 10, 2019 8:59 am

Question : “Do I have to take higher dose of thyroid medication after the duodenal switch? ”

Answer : “Maybe”

With all weight loss surgical procedures, there may be changes to absorption of medications. It is easily understood why duodenal switch may results in decreased absorption of fat-soluble medication. What is not as clear is the reduction in absorption of other medication with procedures that do not explicitly change the absorption at the level of the small bowel directly.

The research data is all over on this topic. There is published literature that shows improvement in the thyroid function after gastric bypass and the sleeve gastrectomy.  However, the exact mechanism is not completely understood.

There is research that reports “…decreased postoperative levothyroxine requirements.” Other have shows no correlation between the length of the bowel distal to duodenum to absorption of thyroid medication.

With all this confusing data, the best course would be to always “treat the patient and not the lab results.”

If a patients who has been on medications with stable number and symptoms,  suddenly presents with complaints of hypothyroidism after weight loss surgery, it’s possible the medications should be up adjusted even if the thyroid lab values may not be as defining.