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The Importance of Laboratory Work

By Raymond G. Lau, MD and Antonia Pinckney, RD CDE RN

Everyone is familiar with the concept of a periodic medical checkup—some sort of scheduled doctor’s visit to check your blood pressure, weight and other medical information. The notion of regular lab work is less established, perhaps because it’s performed less frequently than the traditional checkup. But the best way to discover many health problems is to have laboratory work performed. Not only does it identify many obesity-related conditions, it also helps the doctor determine the best treatment.


If you have a weight problem, it is very important to recognize that you may be at increased risk for a number of health-related conditions. You may be at increased risk for heart disease, stroke, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes mellitus. These medical problems are often obesity-related medical conditions. Because all of these medical conditions have an adverse effect on your health, it is important that you identify them as early as possible so you can receive appropriate treatment.


The best way to find these problems is to have laboratory work performed. Not only does it identify the obesity-related problem, it also helps the doctor determine the best treatment. Your doctor may request you get this laboratory work fasting, meaning no food overnight. Doctors often like to interpret laboratory work that is unaffected by your food intake.


If you do have an obesity-related medical condition that is detectable by laboratory evaluation, it is important to get follow up blood work. This is especially important if you have undergone a weight loss surgery procedure. Many people who undergo weight loss surgery have obesity related medical conditions before surgery. Therefore, it is important to find out if the weight loss surgery has improved these health conditions. If they do not improve, then additional treatment may be necessary.


With some weight loss surgeries, there are associated vitamin deficiencies. It is important to make sure these levels are adequately addressed if needed. Be sure to find out from your doctor when you need follow up laboratory work. Your blood work can also show the improvements in your health due to your weight loss.

Stay on top of your lab work because it is an important indicator of your current and future health.