Bariatric physician Dr. Brian Sabowitz noted that such surgery can alter digestion of medications as well as food.
"Narcotics may not be absorbed the same way after a gastric bypass as they are before a gastric bypass," said Sabowitz, who practices in San Antonio, Texas, and serves as an adjunct assistant professor of medicine for the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio.
"Maybe one reason narcotic use increased is because people were getting less narcotics [in their system]."
Another explanation could be that these patients may have used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen as their first line of treatment for pain, with opioids on hand to help with pain flare-ups, Sabowitz
But people who have bariatric surgery often are told to not use non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs because they can thin the blood and cause suture bleeding.
"You're taking away their prime source of pain management," he
SOURCES: Marsha Raebel, Pharm.D., Kaiser Permanente Colorado, Denver; Brian N. Sabowitz, bariatric physician, San Antonio, Texas, and adjunct assistant professor, medicine, University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio; Oct. 2, 2013, Journal of the American Medical Association