Negative side-effects after surgery are to be expected. But you need to consider the negative side-effects specific to gastric bypass surgery if you’re thinking about having one done. Because, let’s face it—if you’re here reading about the side-effects, you’re probably well on your way in considering the surgery.
Obesity affects one in three Americans, according to the Center for Disease Prevention. Even more Americans are overweight, and hundreds of thousands of people are getting gastric bypasses performed every year. This is good for you, because it means we’ve studied the ins and outs of the surgery’s side-effects extensively. We have more information than ever on what the risks are, and how to be successful with healing and weight loss after the surgery.
All surgeries have side-effects, starting as soon as you wake up from the anesthesia. You might feel sick, and you’ll definitely feel tired and groggy. There will also be important things to watch for, like signs of internal bleeding. Your doctor will go over each of these in detail with you.
But what are the side-effects specific to this type of surgery? How does your body cope after reducing your stomach to the size of a peach, and rewiring your small intestine?
Leaks in gastrointestinal tract: By slicing and dicing your small intestine, it’s possible that you could have small leaks of digestive fluids, blood or food into your abdominal cavity. These may develop overtime, after a suture or staple “gives,” so keep your eyes out for symptoms. According to a Science Direct report, you could have fever, left shoulder pain, and abdominal or chest pain as symptoms. Get into the doctor quickly but rest assured that the leak can be diagnosed fast.
Hernias and stomach perforation: Hernias and stomach perforation can also occur down the line when you think you’re healing nicely. You’ll have sharp and immediate pains telling you something is wrong. After your surgery, your body will be undergoing huge readjustments. By over or under compensating for something, muscles and organs sometimes hurt themselves over the course of regular function, which is how these internal injuries occur.
Vomiting, diarrhea and malnutrition: Your body’s readjustment to the new “norm” will be focused around your digestive tract. As you recalibrate to a smaller stomach and less small intestine to digest and process food, you might have issues with vomiting or diarrhea. If it takes too long for your body to get into the new swing of things, you might end up malnourished from insufficient intake of nutrients you need. Be prepared to take supplements as directed by your doctor.
What is Dumping Syndrome?
Basically, if you eat the same high-fat and high-sugar stuff you were eating before, you won’t be able to digest them quite the same anymore with fewer stomach enzymes to break them down. By consuming excess “junk” after a gastric bypass, all that under-processed food rushing you’re your small intestine can make you very sick. This is called Dumping Syndrome.
Symptoms of Dumping Syndrome include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and weakness, and everything else that comes with them. Some patients say that this side-effect actually helps them be successful with eating better long-term. The idea is, you feel so miserable that you never want to break the rules and eat that food again. Because, unfortunately, Dumping Syndrome is a result of the bad habits continuing even after the surgery.
The worst side-effect of them all
One third of patients who have a gastric bypass and lose the weight end up putting in back on between two and three years, according to a recent German study. So, really, the worst side-effect of all is being unsuccessful. But like all side-effects, this doesn’t occur in every patient. But with one third of patients gaining the weight right back, it’s definitely a side-effect to be aware of.
What makes gastric bypass different than every other surgery is that its success depends on the psychology of the patient. That is, it depends on YOUR willingness to do the work. The surgery helps whittle the work down for you, but you will not have success—and certainly not long-term success—unless you go into it ready to do your part.
Weighing the negative against the positive
Gastric bypass surgery is not without its risks, especially with its higher complication rates compared to adjustable gastric band surgery and other surgical weight-loss options. Dumping Syndrome, malnourishment and depression are all things to be careful of, but in the face of negative side-effects you’ll want to remember why you’re having the surgery in the first place.
Communicate openly with your doctor to make sure you have the best shot at success. Prepare ahead of time with a diet plan, and have other measures in place to set new habits and break the old!