Coronavirus and how it relates to patients who have undergone obesity surgery


COVID-19 has been recognized as a pandemic of universal scale and there’s a rapid increase of deaths associated with COVID-19 daily.

The virus especially affects and causes casualties in the elderly and those suffering from diabetes, hypertension and chronic lung diseases.

The COVID-19 virus generally causes pneumonia upon entering the lungs and results in serious respiratory problems. That is to say, the target of the virus is primarily the lungs. Therefore, precautions are necessary and should be taken without compromise.

Currently, the level of risk for obesity patients and those who have undergone obesity surgery are not completely clear; yet, a couple of premonitions can be made.

COVID-19 with respect to the morbidly obese

The COVID-19 virus is more fatal for those with hypertension, diabetes or chronic lung diseases. Obese people, especially those with a Body Measurement Index (BMI) above 40 kg/m², are known to have at least one of the above diseases alongside obesity.

It should be taken into consideration that the lung capacity of obesity patients is 30% lower when compared to healthy individuals. In this case, infected lung tissues are more likely to develop pneumonia.

Obese individuals produce higher levels of TNF-α, IL-1, and IL-6; known as Proinflammatory Cytokine. This results in a weaker immune system and a vulnerability when combatting infectious diseases.

In conclusion, obese individuals should be extra cautious against the COVID-19 virus which primarily targets and affects the Lungs.

Although it’s too early at this stage to advise a prophylactic treatment, it can be deduced that medications containing N-Acetyl Cysteine increase the secretion of mucus in the lungs and limit the entrance of infectious particles.

COVID-19 with respect to patients who have undergone bariatric surgery

It may be assumed that this group holds a lower level of risk due to the effects of losing weight, such as increased lung capacity and tangible reductions in asthma, hypertension, and diabetes.

These patients may experience decreases in their levels of iron minerals, B12 and Vitamin D. Iron minerals play a crucial role in carrying oxygen to the tissues. Vitamin D is a vital component of the immune system along with calcium metabolism. It’s important, therefore, that patients who have undergone bariatric surgery take supplements containing these vitamins and minerals.

About the author

Dr. HE Obesity Clinic is a leading surgical weight loss clinic in Istanbul, Turkey. Led by renowned bariatric surgeon, Assoc Prof Dr Hasan Erdem, the clinic provides expert assessment and personalised treatment solutions supported by extensive pre- and post-operative counselling. Treatments available include sleeve gastrectomy, gastric bypass and non-surgical weight loss (gastric balloon).

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