Postprandial hypoglycemia after gastric bypass surgery: from pathogenesis to diagnosis and treatment

Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2019 Jul;22(4):295-302. doi: 10.1097/MCO.0000000000000574.


Purpose of review: The Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery (RYGB) improves glucose control in majority of patients with type 2 diabetes. However, a minority group of individuals develop a life-threatening complication of hyperinsulinemic hypoglycemia. The goal of this review is to identify underlying mechanisms by which RYGB cause hypoglycemia and describe pathogenesis-driven strategies to diagnose and treat this condition.

Recent findings: Gastric bypass leads to higher and earlier peak levels of glucose and lower nadir glucose after eating along with larger insulin and glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) secretion, resetting the balance between glucose appearance and clearance after this procedure. These weight-loss independent glycemic effects of RYGB have been attributed to changes in ingested glucose appearance as a result of rapid nutrient emptying from stomach pouch to the intestine and increased glucose clearance as a result of prandial hyperinsulinemia. The exaggerated effect of RYGB on postmeal glucose metabolism is a syndrome of postprandial hyperinsulinemic hypoglycemia manifesting in a group of individuals several years after this surgery. Affected patients have larger systemic appearance of ingested glucose and greater postmeal secretion of insulin and GLP-1 compared to those with history of RYGB without symptomatic hypoglycemia. Current evidence supporting a multifactorial model of glucose dysregulation among patients with hypoglycemia will be highlighted in this review.

Summary: Hypoglycemia after RYGB is a life-threatening condition and likely represents the extreme glycemic phenotype of this procedure. Diagnosis is challenging and treatment options are limited.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Gastric Bypass / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemia* / diagnosis
  • Hypoglycemia* / etiology
  • Hypoglycemia* / physiopathology
  • Hypoglycemia* / therapy
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / metabolism
  • Obesity, Morbid / surgery
  • Postoperative Complications* / diagnosis
  • Postoperative Complications* / physiopathology
  • Postoperative Complications* / therapy
  • Postprandial Period / physiology*


  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin