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Can Bariatric Surgery Change Your Hunger Hormones?

Reading Time: 2 minutes

For many people — particularly those affected by obesity — it can be difficult to achieve long-term weight loss or maintain weight loss through diet and exercise alone. The National Institutes of Health Experts Panel recognizes bariatric surgery as an effective means of maintaining long-term weight loss, partly because of biological changes that occur as a result of weight loss surgery.

Bariatric surgical procedures can regulate appetite and cause weight loss in different ways. Depending on the procedure, weight loss may be achieved by shrinking stomach capacity, causing malabsorption of nutrients or a combination of the two.

Bariatric surgery may also alter the production of the hunger hormone ghrelin.

Ghrelin — a hormone that is produced in the stomach — increases appetite, triggering feelings of hunger. Ghrelin levels typically spike before a meal and decline after eating.

Research indicates that some bariatric procedures, such as gastric bypass, significantly decrease ghrelin production, resulting in reduced hunger and appetite. In a study of gastric bypass patients, levels of ghrelin were much lower following surgery.

Gastric bypass surgery works by several mechanisms. During the gastric bypass procedure, a small stomach pouch is created and attached to the middle portion of the small intestine, bypassing the remainder of the stomach and upper portion of the small intestine. The small stomach pouch reduces stomach capacity, but also reduces absorption of calories and nutrients by bypassing a portion of the intestine. Reduced ghrelin levels following the procedure also contribute to the loss of appetite and rapid weight loss that occurs after gastric bypass surgery.

Each bariatric surgical procedure has its own advantages, and choosing the right procedure depends on the patient’s individual needs. If you have been considering bariatric surgery to achieve your weight loss goals, contact the First Baptist Medical Center Bariatric Surgery Center today for a consultation.