Low vitamin D levels prior to weight-loss surgery are linked to greater post-surgery complications, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. More than 930,000 bariatric operations performed in the United States between 2001 and 2010 were reviewed. Post-surgery complications were rare, with fewer than 1% of patients developing infections. However 71% of complications leading to extended hospitalizations occurred in the winter and north of latitude 37 degrees, roughly South Carolina, where sun exposure, and therefore vitamin D synthesis, is low. In these sun- and vitamin D-deprived regions, more than twice as many patients experienced delayed wound-healing complications, as well as more wound separation and wound infections, in the winter. The researchers conclude that, “…[with]the growing rates of obesity and increased popularity of bariatric surgeries…primary care clinicians and bariatric surgeons should consider screening their patients and correcting any confirmed vitamin D deficiency.”
Petersen L, Canner , Cheskin L, et al: Proxy measures of vitamin D status – season and latitude – correlate with adverse outcomes after bariatric surgery in the nationwide Inpatient Sample, 2001-2010. Obesity Science & Practice 2015; December 22nd.