Gastric Bypass Risks & Side Effects


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There are various risks from having a gastric bypass. There is a risk of leakages because of the stomach being divided and the intestine rerouted.  You may experience dumping syndrome if you eat foods high in fat or sugar, which can be unpleasant.  Dumping syndrome can be unpleasant when it is experienced.  It is caused by ingested food enters the small intestines largely undigested.  Dumping syndrome can lead to vomiting, bloating, cramps and diarrhoea.  Post surgery you will need to be very careful about your portion size, if you eat more than your pouch can hold you will experience pain, discomfort and vomiting.  Many patients have gas, which can be painful and cause discomfort.  The gas can smell worse than it did before surgery.  If this becomes a major problem you should consult your doctor who can help with this. There is risk of ulcers, which have been known to occur in some cases where the small intestine meets the new stomach pouch.  Some patients experience more frequent bowel movements, this can vary from patient to patient. As this procedure involves the bypassing of the small intestine you will have to take nutritional supplements for the rest of your life.  Some patients who do not take all the nutritional supplements they should take can end up with nutrient deficiency type illnesses. 

There is some risk of side effects with regards to this procedure, as there are with any procedures. The positive is that these side effects are minimal and at most can be prevented. You will be offered different kinds of advice from different members of a specialist team who will be supporting you throughout your surgery, this is the advice you should follow strictly to reduce any risks you may encounter.

Side Effects of a Gastric Bypass

As with all surgery you may experience some type of pain after your operation while your body adapts to the change, you may find it temporarily hard to get back to your eating habits. You will also be required to dress and look after your surgical wounds whilst they heal, with regards to any pain you may feel after your procedure has been completed you will be within a hospital environment for at least the next three to five days, therefore you will have access to any form of pain relief that the medical staff feel necessary. These side effects will of course be temporary and should be relieved by specific pain relief medicine.

Alteration of Diet

After your operation you will need to adapt your diet substantially, if adapted incorrectly you may cause all sorts of nutritional problems such as anaemia, this can be prevented however if you follow advice given to you from the support team who should be available to you on request as well as keeping a good healthy balanced diet.

Other Possible Side Effects

Several patients experience some hair loss after surgery, this is not a side effect caused by the surgery, it is a side effect which can be affected by your change in diet. As you may be reducing the amount of specific nutrients you intake it can cause this kind of thing to happen, however there are nutritional supplements you will be able to take to reduce hair loss. Due again to the change in diet you may experience differing bowel habits, you may find that you are constipated more often, due again to the sufficient decrease in the amount of food in which your body will be digesting. If this occurs you again can take supplements for this, and always ensure you have a healthy balanced diet to tackle any bowel problems.

Dumping Syndrome Following a Gastric Bypass

You may also have heard of dumping syndrome which is associated with this type of surgery, it can occur in some people and it is caused when food is rapidly passed from your stomach into your small intestine, in fact too quick for your body to deal with. This triggers a fluid to be released into your stomach which can cause problems such as:

  • Sickness and Diarrhoea
  • Stomach cramps
  • A feeling of discomfort within your digestive system
  • Sweating and dizziness
  • Heart palpitations

Often it is found that this is caused by the consumption of excessive food or specific types of foods. Sugary foods are usually defined as the cause, however it can occur with other types of food, this is often referred to as ‘early dumping syndrome’ and will cause problems around 15-30 minutes after the consumption of food.  ‘Late dumping syndrome’ which will occur between 1 to 3 hours after food consumption is caused by the rise in your blood sugar levels after eating sugary foods, it will cause your pancreas to secrete insulin to soak up the large amounts of sugary food it will think your body has consumed, you will then experience similar problems to those common with early dumping syndrome.  It is recommended that you ensure you practice a balanced and healthy diet to reduce the risk of these symptoms, eat small meals and drink plenty of liquids. There are many dietary tips online which will assist in helping you with carrying out this balanced diet, as well as the assistance of a dietician which should be provided from the clinic you have your procedure carried out.  Unfortunately when you experience either late or early dumping syndrome there is not much that can be done, other than to wait until the feeling passes, therefore it is advised that you follow a good diet to reduce these problems arising.


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