Generally, losing weight is an incremental process. However, if your weight is threatening your health and interfering with your life, and if diet and exercise haven’t resolved the problem, your doctor may recommend bariatric surgery, admission to a weight loss facility or other ways of losing weight quickly. In these situations, it’s crucial that you understand rapid weight loss’ potential side effects and how to prevent or manage them.
Some forms of bariatric surgery work by creating malabsorption; these procedures bypass a part of the small intestine and so limit the amount of calories absorbed from food. Unfortunately, these surgeries also limit the body’s ability to process nutrients. Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, the most popular form of bariatric surgery, causes vitamin deficiency in as many as half of patients; the most common deficiencies are in iron, vitamin B12, foliate, calcium and vitamin D. It’s important to know, however, that malnutrition after gastric bypass surgery is largely preventable. Take a multivitamin every day; then, have your doctor perform blood tests to check for specific deficiencies that might require additional supplements. Finally, eat nutritious, vitamin-rich foods to combat malnutrition naturally.
Gallstones are balls of cholesterol that form in the gallbladder and cause painful inflammation. When you lose weight quickly, through a very low-calorie diet, bariatric surgery or any other means, you may be at risk for developing gallstones. If you do develop gallstones, you have several treatment options. Laparoscopic surgery can be used to remove the gallbladder, which is a non-essential organ. Alternatively, you can take medication to dissolve the stones. Rich, cholesterol-heavy meals create and aggravate gallstones, so you’ll also need to replace harmful fats, such as those in red meat, with healthful fats, such as those in olive oil and fish.
After rapid weight loss, you may find that your skin is stretched and sagging, especially in the places where you’ve lost the most fat. On the whole, skin is elastic, but its lower layers, the dermis and hypodermis, adjust to change slowly and, sometimes, incompletely. Skin can return to normal, though the process may take up to two years. Facilitate this change by staying hydrated, eating well, using sunscreen and avoiding harsh soaps. You can also apply skin-tightening creams that contain trusted, natural ingredients, including vitamin E, yeast extract and soy protein; these products can increase your skin’s collagen and elastin levels. If your weight loss was both rapid and major, however, you may find that these measures are ineffective because your body’s changes have outpaced your skin’s ability to repair itself. In this case, a skin-rejuvenating cosmetic procedure such as a facelift or tummy tuck can restore your skin to its pre-surgery elasticity.
Weight loss can solve many health and lifestyle problems. However, quickly dropping pounds can also lead to unpleasant side effects, from malnutrition to sagging skin. If you’re planning to lose weight rapidly, or if you’ve already done so, try to prevent and prepare for each of these potential complications. Having a plan will allow you to enjoy your weight loss without agonizing over its unanticipated side effects.
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