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Weight Loss Surgery and Endocrinology

Weight Loss Surgery and Endocrinology


It is no secret that hormones going out of whack are a side effect of obesity. It is the reason why obesity affects things like your sex drive, fertility, and other growth patterns. But how does it all work in detail? What is it about the presence or absence of adipose tissue that determines hormone production? And what does a weight loss surgery expert need to know about the relationship between those two things? So, we are going to dive into how obesity and hormones correlate to one another with an in-depth explanation of the endocrine system.

What do Hormones Do Again?

In a nutshell, hormones regulate the growth, reproduction, and metabolism in the human body. The hormones themselves are simple chemical compositions that exit various glands in the body and runs through the bloodstream. From there, they get carried to different organs that react depending on the hormonal message that is sent.

So, if there is an imbalance, say in an excess of cortisol and norepinephrine from the adrenal glands, your body will respond to it by causing a negative response, like anxiety.

Obesity is often a byproduct of excess cortisol. Cortisol often makes an appearance when the body is stressed by starvation and excessive exercise. Your body can’t tell the difference between a diet and a famine, so it compensates for the sake of survival by holding onto and producing more body fat.

So, weight loss surgery is applied as a solution for the excess of cortisol by removing a ton of it from the gut.  When the fat cells that produce or exacerbate the cortisol production are missing after weight loss surgery, the body is more likely to balance itself out and weight will be lost.

How the Endocrine System Works

The Head and Neck

The first organ from the top down is the pineal gland. Its main function is to regulate sleep and it is located in the brain. It sits above the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus, which is located near the brain also. The interesting thing about the pituitary gland is that it is commonly the source of blame for puberty. While on some level it is true, since it regulates sexual function, it does far more than that. It also regulates bone and tissue growth, which would incredibly stunt if the pituitary gland were damaged in any other way.

Below that is the thyroid gland. This regulates, metabolism, blood pressure, heart rate, and digestion. This is most likely the culprit of sudden weight gain in spite of diet or exercise. If it is overactive, it would be nigh impossible to gain weight, and if it is underactive, it would be equally impossible to lose it.  It is located in the neck, and the damage of this gland is often a sign of either pre-diabetes or type two diabetes.

Kidney and Abdomen

The adrenal gland, which is located on top of the kidneys also regulates metabolism, manages the body’s salt and water levels, as well as controls the immune system and sexual functions. When there is not enough or too many hormones received by this gland, all of those regulations go out of whack. Also, the hormone adrenaline is named from this gland.

The pancreas will also gain bigger issues from obesity.  This is because it manages digestion and insulin production. There is a lot of observable correlation between obesity and insulin resistance. The medical community knew this since the ’90s.  So, it would make sense that weight loss surgery can positively impact the pancreas. Especially, with the removal of excess adipose tissue.

Reproductive Organs

This is where the endocrine system deviates through biological sex.

Women see hormone production from their ovaries. For the most part, the hormones that are required to function is estrogen and progesterone.  However, it would be foolish to assume that they are the only ones present. Women rely on a cocktail of 11 hormones, including testosterone for things like blood cell production, as well as bone and tissue growth.  Weight gain can also be a byproduct of ovarian cysts and the treatment often requires other hormones from the common birth control pills to even out fertility, mood and weight gain.

Men see hormone production from their testes. Their hormone production is less complex than women with only 6 present. The main hormone that is often known for men is testosterone, and just like women, a lack of testosterone production would result in weight gain and insulin resistance.


No part of our bodies is an island. It is a complex system with multiple parts that can help or hurt a medical situation. Weight loss surgery can be beneficial to our own hormonal balance and often has a connection with other conditions. Talk to your doctor to ask about how one can contribute to another.