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Written by: Sharon McLemore, FNP

Typically, labs are done prior to your 3, 6, and 12 month follow-ups.  Additional interim labs or testing may be requested if special circumstances warrant them.  You may be asking yourself, why do I need to do labs so frequently my first-year postoperatively?  Eating habits change post-surgery and it is important that you get adequate protein, vitamins, minerals, and fluids.  Your body also goes through considerable changes as it adjusts to the rapid weight loss.  It isn’t unusual to become deficient in one or more areas (particularly in the first 3-6 months) as you learn to adjust to the post-surgical changes.  Labs provide a snapshot of both your nutritional and your overall health and indicate if you are getting adequate protein and nutrients.  Getting your labs done at regular frequent intervals allows us to identify any deficiencies and make/monitor changes and/or additions early so that they don’t become future health problems.  Adequate protein and nutrients are also important contributors to maximizing your weight loss.  Although you may be well on your way to your weight loss goals at the one year mark it is still important to get your 12 month labs done.  After your 12 month follow-up you are typically only seen annually.  Having your 12 month labs done helps to ensure you are nutritionally and medically sound and can proceed the next 12months with the tools needed to sustain weight loss and overall good health.

Labs not only reflect if you are getting adequate nutrition but also alert us if there are any problems with your liver, kidneys, thyroid, and other essential organs.  The labs also provide information important when considering tapering, modifying, and/or discontinuing certain medications.  

Labs that are typically done post-surgery include:

  • CBC – Which looks at red and white blood cells and their components providing information regarding anemia, infection and blood clotting.
  • CMP – Which looks at kidney function (are you getting enough water), liver enzymes (fatty liver), and electrolytes including calcium (important for bones, teeth, and cardiac function).
  • Thyroid – Looks at thyroid function (Do you need medication and/or is your current medication dosage adequate).   Thyroid produces hormones that regulate the body’s metabolic rate as well as heart and digestive function, muscle control, brain development, mood and bone maintenance.
  • B12, folate, thiamine – These B vitamins are important for production of red blood cells (anemia) and cell function, neurologic function, heart function, brain function,  and energy. 
  • D – This vitamin is important for bones, muscle/joint aches, immune function and energy.
  • TIBC, iron – Checks that iron levels are adequate for red blood cell production (anemia), immune function, and energy.
  • Prealbumin – Looks to see if protein intake is adequate.  Protein is important the building block for muscle, bone, cartilage, and blood.  It is also an important component of weight loss and maintenance of healthy hair, nails and skin. 
  • HGA1C – Looks at average blood sugar levels.   (Are you diabetic, pre diabetic, if on medications is medication adequate).
  • Lipid panel – May be done.  Checks you total cholesterol and triglycerides.  Both can be important contributors to heart disease.

Be sure and get your labs done about 2 weeks prior to your scheduled follow-up appointment.  Your lab facility may require some tests to be sent out for results and this can take some time.  Two weeks usually provides adequate time for us to receive your results so that they are available to review with you during your follow up appointment.  You have been provided a lab order sheet that can be taken to the lab facility of your choice.  If using insurance, you may want to check and see if insurance requires labs be done at any specific lab facilities.  If for some reason you don’t have a lab order sheet you can contact our call center and one can be emailed to you so you can print them at your convenience.   Our information has been included on the lab order sheet so that your lab facility can directly fax us your results once they have been completed.

We like it when you pull out your list of questions during your follow up appointments.  It tells us you are an interested and are actively participating in your health and weight loss.  Be sure and let your provider know if you are having difficulty eating, drinking, not tolerating your vitamins, or are struggling with protein or need some exercise ideas.  Keeping a close watch on your labs and having open dialogue with your provider and health care team will help you achieve the maximum and healthiest benefit from your weight loss surgery.     

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