Obesity Surgery

, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 654-667

First online:

Examining the Link Between Bariatric Surgery, Bone Loss, and Osteoporosis: a Review of Bone Density Studies

  • Lesley M. SciboraAffiliated withSchool of Kinesiology, University of Minnesota Email author 
  • , Sayeed IkramuddinAffiliated withDepartment of Surgery, University of Minnesota
  • , Henry BuchwaldAffiliated withDepartment of Surgery, University of Minnesota
  • , Moira A. PetitAffiliated withSchool of Kinesiology, University of Minnesota

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As the popularity of bariatric surgery to treat morbid obesity has risen, so has a concern of increased skeletal fragility secondary to accelerated bone loss following bariatric procedures. We reviewed cross-sectional and prospective literature reporting bone density outcomes following bariatric surgical treatment for morbid obesity. Prospective research provides evidence of hip and lumbar spine areal bone mineral density (aBMD) reductions primarily in women despite calcium and vitamin D supplementation. Femoral neck aBMD declines of 9–11% and lumbar spine aBMD reductions up to 8% were observed at the first post-operative year following malabsorptive procedures. Mean T- and Z-scores up to 25 years following surgery remained within normal and healthy ranges. Of those studies reporting development of osteoporosis following gastric bypass, one woman became osteoporotic after 1 year. Despite observed bone loss in the hip region post-surgery, data do not conclusively support increased incidence of osteoporosis or increased fracture risk in post-bariatric patients. However, given the limitations of dual energy X-ray absorptiometry technology in this population and the relative lack of long-term prospective studies that include control populations, further research is needed to provide conclusive evidence regarding fracture outcomes in this population.


Bariatric surgery Weight loss surgery Bone mineral density Bone loss Osteoporosis