Oral levothyroxine therapy postbariatric surgery: Biopharmaceutical aspects and clinical effects

Carmil Azran, Daniel Porat, Noa Fine-Shamir, Nirvana Hanhan, Arik Dahan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Background: Bariatric surgery can lead to changes in the oral absorption of many drugs. Levothyroxine is a narrow therapeutic drug for hypothyroidism, a common condition among patients with obesity. Objective: The purpose of this work was to provide a mechanistic overview of levothyroxine absorption, and to thoroughly analyze the expected effects of bariatric surgery on oral levothyroxine therapy. Methods: We performed a systematic review of the relevant literature reporting the effects of bariatric surgery on oral levothyroxine absorption and postoperative thyroid function. A PubMed search for relevant keywords resulted in a total of 14 articles reporting levothyroxine status before versus after bariatric surgery. Results: Different mechanisms may support opposing trends as to levothyroxine dose adjustment postsurgery. On the one hand, based on impaired drug solubility/dissolution attributable to higher gastric pH as well as reduced gastric volume, compromised levothyroxine absorption is expected. On the other hand, the great weight loss, and altered set-point of thyroid hormone homeostasis with decreased thyroid-stimulating hormone after the surgery, may result in a decreased dose requirement. Conclusions: For patients after bariatric surgery, close monitoring of both the clinical presentation and plasma thyroid-stimulating hormone and T4 levels is strongly advised. Better understanding and awareness of the science presented in this article may help to avoid preventable complications and provide optimal patient care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)333-341
Number of pages9
JournalSurgery for Obesity and Related Diseases
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2019


  • Bariatric surgery
  • Drug absorption
  • Levothyroxine
  • Obesity
  • Oral drug administration
  • Thyroid hormone deficiency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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