Just like with any kind of surgery, there are some risks and benefits. Having surgery can be a huge impact on your body; the changes and healing process. Every body type is different, so our bodies heal differently, and can also take different times, too. Here are some of the most common side effects and complications that can occur after weight loss surgery.
Dumping Syndrome (Gastric Bypass Patients Only)
Dumping Syndrome is a condition some patients may experience after gastric bypass surgery, when foods high in sugar content have been consumed. Abdominal symptoms include pain, stomach rumbling and diarrhea. Other symptoms can include weakness, sweating, flushing, rapid heart rate and palpitations. If you have symptoms of Dumping Syndrome that last longer than a few hours, please call the office and speak to your doctor’s nurse.
Gas is often produced by consuming complex carbohydrates. Certain foods are gas-producing: broccoli, cauliflower and onions to name a few. Extra air taken in with chewing gum and straw usage can also contribute to gas. If you are feeling symptoms of gas, try increasing your exercise and eliminating gassy foods.
**For medication that can help with gas-relief, please call our office and ask to speak with your surgeons nurse. She will be able to look up your medical history and see which medicine will be best for you.
It is normal to have occasional constipation and decreased bowel movements; (ever two to three days). If your stools are hard, try:
- Adding high fiber foods to your food plan (legumes)
- Increase your raw vegetable intake
- Add fruit occasionally (1-2 servings/week)
- Make sure you are getting the required 64 oz. of water a day
- Increase your exercise
- Add a fiber supplement
If the tips above do not help, please call the office and speak to your doctor’s nurse.
Diarrhea can be caused by consuming sugars, including fruits and fruit juices. The first thing to do is to eliminate these from your diet. Keep your fluid level elevated to compensate for the extra fluid lost through your bowels. If there is no improvement, contact the office and ask to speak with your doctor’s nurse.
The percentage of postoperative patients that we see with a bowel obstruction is less than 5%. A bowel obstruction can be defined as interference with the normal passage of intestinal contents through the small and/or large bowel caused by partial or complete obstruction. This obstruction is usually caused by adhesions (scar tissue).
Symptoms can include: bloating or distention in the abdominal area, bowel cramping, abdominal pain, vomiting, constipation and/or diarrhea. If you have severe abdominal cramping and/or pain that continues for up to six hours, especially accompanied by any of these other symptoms, it is crucial that you call our office and talk to your doctor’s nurse. If you are calling after hours, the answering service will page the doctor immediately. When you’re in doubt, you can always go straight to the emergency room. Please have them contact your surgeon here at Rocky Mountain Associated Physicians (RMAP). They are experience on how best to handle your care in this area (even if it has been a number of years since your surgery). It is much better to call if you are having any of these above symptoms, than to let time go by. Time is critical in curing a bowel obstruction. The more time that a bowel obstruction goes untreated by medical personnel, the higher the chances of it causing a major problem for you, including death. When in doubt…call!
A hernia is a rupture or a weakness in the muscle wall allowing protrusion of tissues normally contained within the abdominal cavity. This usually happens along or beside the incision line. This is the main reason that abdominal exercise is limited in the immediate postoperative phase. Most often, hernia causes an ache or pain in some area of the abdomen that tends to worsen with heavy lifting. A notable protrusion in the abdomen or groin area can be an obvious hernia symptom. If you have symptoms of a hernia, please call the office and speak to your doctor’s nurse.
Excess Skin (need for cosmetic surgery)
Some patients have an excess of skin in the abdomen, thigh, chest, breast and/or upper arm areas after losing a large amount of weight. Sometimes exercise does not help these areas tone up as much as you would like to see them toned. If you desire, you may call our office and ask for recommendations for plastic surgeons. Many patients elect to have one or more of the following procedures done after their weight loss:
- Abdominoplasty/Panniculectomy (tummy tuck).
- Breast augmentation, reduction and/or lift.
- Removal of excess skin from arms and thighs.
- Scar revision.
It is important to see your surgeon or family physician for an annual exam and blood work. Included in this exam will be:
- Comprehensive metabolic panel
- Complete blood count
- Vitamin B-12, Folate, Thiamine and Vitamin D; 25 hydroxy level
- Lipid profile, Hemoglobin A1c
- Weight and blood pressure check
- DS patients: Vitamin A levels and Protime
Make sure RMAP receives a copy of your test results by faxing them to (801) 268-3997.
**If you are experiencing any kind of vomiting or symptoms listed above, please call our office at (801) 268-3800. That is also the after-hours number you will call to speak with the doctor that is on call.
For more information on Dumping Syndrome, click here.
For more information on vomiting after weight loss surgery, click here.
If you are interesting in learning more about weight loss surgery, and the risks and benefits of each procedure, you can either attend one of our free informational seminars or watch a video online. Click here to sign up to attend our informational seminar, or click here to watch the video online.
Let us know how you are doing after weight loss surgery.
Rocky Mountain Associated Physicians
1160 East 3900 South, Suite 4100
SLC, UT 84124