Gastric bypass surgery side effects are almost unavoidable, because the gastric bypass procedure changes the digestive process and reduces the body’s ability to absorb calories and nutrients from the food you eat.
Although some side effects can be permanent, many of them can be avoided by making positive changes to your daily lifestyle, habits and bariatric diet.
Talking with your doctor about what to expect from gastric bypass surgery will help you cope with the potential side effects linked to this form of weight loss surgery. Let’s review this topic a little further…
Gastric Bypass Surgery Side Effects
Common gastric bypass side effects that you should know about include nutritional deficiencies, gastric dumping syndrome, gallstones and hair loss. Let’s take a look at each potential side effect.
One of the most common side effects of gastric bypass surgery is nutritional deficiencies, also called malnutrition. This happens when food skips the upper small intestine (duodenum) where most of the iron and calcium from food is absorbed. Because you eat less and you’re body absorbs less nutrients, your diet should include foods super-rich in nutrition.
Transient Hair Loss
Many gastric bypass surgery patients experience hair loss. It is a common side effect most likely caused by surgery and rapid weight loss. It rarely last more than six months. In fact, almost every patient starts to regrow hair within 3 to 6 months after surgery. Supplement your bariatric diet with protein, vitamin B, calcium, zinc and regular vitamins. This will help prevent hair loss and improve hair growth.
Formation of gallstones are common side effects associated with gastric bypass surgery. Gallstones are small, hard deposits of cholesterol formed in the gallbladder when there is an imbalance in the bile. Sometimes, gallstones can cause symptoms such as abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. About 10% to 20% of patients have their gallbladder removed after gastric bypass surgery.
Gastric Dumping Syndrome
Dumping syndrome is a side effect for many patients who have had gastric bypass surgery. It happens when food and gastric juices are “dumped” directly from the stomach into the small intestine without being digested. Common symptons include abdominal cramps, nausea and diarrhea. The symptons of dumping syndrome can be avoided by eating a gastric bypass diet.
Dehydration is a common side effect of gastric bypass and occurs when your body looses too much water. This results when you do not take in enough fluids or lose too much fluid from vomiting or diarrhea. Dehydration can lead to further health complications after gastric bypass and you need to take it seriously. You should drink at least 2 quarts of fluids each day.
A kidney stone is a hard object made from chemicals in the urine. Urine is made up of various wastes that are dissolved in it. When the amount of waste is greater than the amount liquid, crystals begin to form and attract other elements. They join together to form a solid that continues to get larger unless passed out of the body through urine. Symptoms include severe pain, blood in urine, nausea or vomiting.
How to prevent the side effects of kidney stones after gastric bypass surgery:
- Limit foods containing oxalate (nuts, black teas and dark leafy greens)
- Decrease sodium (salt, processed meats and packaged foods)
- Read nutrition labels on every product you purchase… talk with Nutrition Center for advice.
- Cut out red meat and explore more plant-based protein (beans such as lentils)
Dysphagia, a medical term for “difficulty swallowing” is a side effect associated with restrictive surgeries like gastric bypass. This happens when you eat too fast, too much or do not chew your food enough for the smaller stomach. As a result, food backs up into the esophagus and causes chest pressure and sometimes tightness in the throat. This can be avoided by chewing well and eating slowly.
Patient Guide to Gastric Bypass Surgery