Long-term pharmacotherapy considerations in the bariatric surgery patient

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Pharmacists' role in optimizing long-term pharmacotherapy for bariatric surgery patients is detailed.


Bariatric surgery patients provide a difficult challenge in terms of many pharmacotherapy issues, especially in the chronic care setting, where data on long-term effects of bariatric surgery are limited. The most common procedures are Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB), adjustable gastric banding, and sleeve gastrectomy. Sleeve gastrectomy has become the most common procedure in the United States, primarily because it has less overall chronic malabsorption effects than RYGB. Pharmacotherapy management is complicated by rapid weight loss combined with a number of pharmacokinetic changes, such as decreased absorption of some medications due to altered gastrointestinal tract anatomy and potentially increased concentrations of some medications due to a decreased volume of distribution resulting from weight loss. Nutritional and metabolic supplementation are of the utmost importance in order to limit deficiencies that can lead to a number of conditions. Many chronic diseases, including hypertension, diabetes, gastroesophageal reflux disease, and urinary incontinence, are improved by bariatric surgery but require close monitoring to ensure the effectiveness of maintenance pharmacotherapy and avoidance of adverse effects. Psychotropic medication management is also an important pharmacotherapy concern, as evidenced by antidepressants being the most commonly used medication class among preoperative bariatric surgery patients.


Pharmacists have an increasing role in the chronic management of the bariatric surgery patient due to their knowledge of medication dosage forms and expertise in disease states affected by bariatric surgery.

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