Losing weight and feeling full faster is a popular result of gastric bypass surgery but most patients don’t know that a side effect of the procedure can be a change in sense of taste and smell.
According to a recent study, many patients are reporting changes in smell, taste, and appetite after weight loss surgery. CBS News reports that researchers suggest that this can actually help patients lose even more weight as they feel less inclined to eat unhealthy foods and excessive amounts of calories and nutrients.
What is Gastric Bypass Surgery?
The gold standard in bariatrics, the Roux-en-y gastric bypass procedure involves surgeons dividing the stomach into a small, golf-sized pouch and rerouting the small intestine path. This causes the stomach to hold less food and fewer calories to be absorbed before the patient feels full.
How Do Taste and Smell Change After Gastric Bypass?
The study evaluated 103 British patients who had the Roux-en-y gastric bypass surgery. Nearly 97% of those evaluated said their appetite had changed following surgery, and 42% had changes in their sense of smell.
Changes in sense of taste, especially regarding sweet or sour flavors, occurred in 73% of patients.
Participants also experienced changes in the taste of greasy foods, pasta, rice, fast food, chocolate, chicken, beef, roast, pork, sausage, lamb, and fish.
According to the study’s researchers, nearly ¾ of these patients developed a dislike for certain foods, especially meat. And the other one-third avoided chicken, beef steak, lamb, sausage, bacon, chicken, or ham altogether. All of this resulted in greater weight loss.
Another 12% saw changes in the taste of bread, pastries, rice, pasta, and dairy products such as eggs, cheese, cream, and ice cream. Appetite for vegetables changed in 4% of participants, 3% with fruit, and 1% for canned fish such as tuna.
Researchers also discovered that patients with other dislikes for foods they once had lost on average 18 pounds after surgery more than those who reported unaffected tastes. The study was published online in the Journal of Obesity Surgery.
Patients in this study were told about this possible loss of taste and smell during their initial weight loss surgery consultation.
What Causes Taste and Smell to Change?
Cause and effect were not investigated during this study despite researchers finding an association between bariatric surgery itself and changes in taste, appetite, and smell. The study’s lead author, Lisa Graham of the Leicester Royal Infirmary, believes that these taste and smell changes may be caused by a combination of gut hormones, bacteria, and changes in the central nervous system after surgery.