Any surgery comes with potential complications, and when it comes to bariatric surgeries, constipation after gastric sleeve surgery is one of the common issues that people experience.
Constipation means you’re unable to have a bowel movement or have difficulty doing so, and there are many reasons why bariatric surgery patients experience this.
To prepare yourself for potential post-op complications, here’s what you need to know about gastric sleeve surgery and constipation, including why it happens, how to prevent it, and how to recognize it.
Why Constipation After Gastric Sleeve Surgery Is Common
Drugs are among the most common cause of post-op constipation. Both the anesthesia used during the procedure and the analgesics prescribed to manage your pain afterward can contain central nervous system depressants that slow gastrointestinal function.
This issue typically resolves on its own once the anesthesia works itself out of your system and as you reduce your intake of pain medication.
Your new diet after gastric sleeve can also lead to constipation, and here’s how:
- Reduced fiber intake, because fiber keeps things moving in the GI tract, and your overall reduced food consumption means there will be less fiber in your diet
- Reduced water intake as a result of reduced food intake, because water keeps the GI tract lubricated, and food accounts for about 20 percent of our water intake
- Higher protein consumption, especially if you’re taking shakes or supplements because these usually don’t have any fiber in them
Preventing Constipation After Gastric Sleeve Surgery
Untreated constipation can lead to more significant complications, so it’s important to take steps to prevent it after surgery. For starters, try to drink around 64 ounces of water (or hydrating fluids) each day. At the same time, avoid sugary drinks, caffeine, and drinking alcohol after gastric sleeve.
You should also avoid high-starch foods such as rice and potatoes while adding healthy fats to your diet in the form of avocado, flax, and other plant-based whole foods. Exercise is another excellent way to keep things moving, so talk to your doctor about when it’s appropriate for you to start moving around after surgery.
Finally, when you feel the urge to go, don’t put it off, because ignoring the need for a bowel movement can exacerbate constipation and lead to other problems.
Constipation Can Be More Complicated After Gastric Sleeve
As a general rule, a constipation diagnosis is when a change occurs in the schedule or frequency of your bowel movements. However, a gastric sleeve can complicate this process because bariatric surgery results in many changes in the body, including bowel movements.
Therefore, what was normal before won’t be normal after surgery, so recognizing when you’re constipated may not be as simple as it used to be.
- A good rule to note: if you have less than one bowel movement per week, then you’re probably constipated. However, there are also other symptoms, including pain or discomfort when you go to the bathroom, or feeling like there’s a blockage in your rectum after a small bowel movement.
- If you do experience constipation, book an appointment with your doctor to discuss treatment options.
Bariatric surgery can save lives by encouraging weight loss and reducing the risk of severe health problems, but procedures like gastric sleeve do have some potential complications. When it comes to constipation, it’s important to be aware of your bowel movements (including their frequency) and to take steps to prevent constipation.
The best way to avoid constipation after gastric sleeve surgery is to drink plenty of fluids, to eat the right foods, and to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle.
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