Gastric bypass has become an increasingly common option for patients seeking permanent weight loss. Because many patients who are gastric bypass candidates often have other chronic health conditions that require maintenance medication, it is important to know which medications are safe to take after gastric bypass and which are not. After bypass, the anatomy of the stomach and intestines is changed, affecting how medications function and how these medications affect the gastrointestinal tract.
Gastric Bypass Surgery
A type of bariatric weight loss surgery, gastric bypass involves greatly reducing the capacity of the stomach using staples to create a small pouch at the upper part of the stomach. The small intestine is then connected to the pouch. Because the stomach pouch has a greatly reduced volume, patients can eat less and lose weight. The absorption of some medications is also changed because of this change in anatomy.
Extended Release Medications
Extended release medications are not a viable option because the anatomy of the stomach is greatly altered in gastric bypass. Extended release medications work by dissolving in the stomach slowly and are then released into the bloodstream at a slower, more even rate. Because gastric acids and enzymes are reduced or altered after gastric bypass, this mechanism does not work as it normally would. Extended release medications also cannot be crushed or chewed.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, are a group of medications commonly used to treat pain and conditions like arthritis. They reduce pain, inflammation and reduce fevers. NSAIDs commonly interact with other medications, but gastric bypass patients should also avoid using NSAIDs. NSAIDs increase the chances of getting a stomach ulcer, and these are much more difficult to treat in patients who have had gastric bypass. Common NSAIDs include asprin, ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin, Aleve, Naprosyn, Vioxx and Celebrex. Most bypass patients are prescribed medicines that help prevent ulcers.
Consult Your Doctor
As with any medication, it is important to consult with your doctor before starting. This becomes even more important after gastric bypass surgery. To be as healthy and successful as possible after gastric bypass, maintain regular follow- up appointments with both your bariatric surgeon and primary care physician. Your bariatric surgeon will likely conduct more in-depth blood work than your primary care physician, and his input and care is vital in ensuring your long-term success. In addition, follow-up with your primary care physician is important because he will likely need to adjust dosages of any maintenance medications you take, such as medicines for high blood pressure or diabetes.