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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Possible Complications

There are some people who really worry about the risks and potential complications from gastric bypass surgery.  I'm not trying to be all pollyanna about it, but I am truly not concerned.  I know that there are risks involved, but I also trust God to ease the anxiousness that could make me re-think this whole thing.  Bariatric Center has listed these as complications that could occur:

Stomal Stenosis:  This occurs when the opening between the stomach and the intestine become tighter, or constricted.  Symptoms include: a) vomiting after eating or drinking, worsening with time (may occur 2-3 months after surgery) b) feeling that food is "sticking" and your stomach is not opening c) unable to tolerate foods that were formerly tolerated after surgery. (This is an obvious "Contact Bariatric Center if you feel you have developed stomal stenosis.)

Constipation:  It's not uncommon after bariatric surgery for bowel movements to be less frequent and smaller because of eating less food.  Though constipation is not common, it can happen.  To help with this, be sure to get plenty of fluids and exercise regularly.  As you progress, the stomach will have more space for higher fiber foods to alleviate constipation.

Nausea:  Eating too fast, drinking with meals, not chewing food thoroughly, filling overfull and taking large bites generally causes nausea and possible vomiting.  Take 30 minutes to eat every meal.  (I'm wondering what it will be like to take 30 minutes to drink 2T of broth!)  Use a baby spoon to remind yourself to take pea size bites.  Stop eating just before first signs of fullness.

Gas and Bloating:  Swallowing a lot of air can contribute to gas.  Bubbles in carbonated beverages can swell in our stomach causing pressure to your staple line.  You will find that some foods cause gas - learn to avoid foods that do not agree with you.  Lactose, the sugar in milk, might not be tolerated immediately after surgery - but may subside after a few weeks.  Lactose free milk or soy milk can be used in place of milk.  Dairy products such as yogurt, ricotta cheese, and cottage cheese have low lactose content and are usually well tolerated.

Hair Loss:  (yes I put a big star by this one...silly, I know)  Your compliance to the post surgery diet and vitamin supplementation will affect the amount of hair loss sustained.  Some will experience hair loss from the stress of surgery.  When you consume less protein than your body needs, your body will make those proteins considered essential for existence.  Hair is not considered essential.  (WHAT?!?!)

Ulcers:  Some ulcers are caused by long-term use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDs) like aspirin and ibuprofen.  NSAIDs interfere with the stomach's ability to protect itself from acidic stomach juices.  Avoid aspirin and related products.  After surgery, use Tylenol instead and be sure to stay on all prescribed medications.

Dumping Syndrome:  Dumping can cause side effects of nausea, cramps, diarrhea, rapid heartbeat and weakness.  As foods high in sugars pass through the digestive tract, water rushes to your intestines from the surrounding tissues to dilute the sugar concentration.  This stimulates the muscles to contract sending foods quickly through the intestines.  Avoid dumping syndrome by limiting sugars in foods - even "hidden sugars".  (I've got a whole page dedicated to finding the hidden sugars - words like dextrose, glucose, maltose, lactose, (bunch of "ose" words) as well as sugar alcohols like sorbitol, xylitol, mannitol which are often found in foods labeled "sugar free" like sugar free candy.  Because they are not completely digested, food companies don't have to report hem on the food label as grams of sugar.  So a food can list 0 grams of sugar and still contain large amounts of sugar alcohols that can cause dumping syndrome.  Almost seems deceptive, doesn't it?)

Bad Breath:  After surgery, some patients experience bad breath.  Sip on water throughout the day and include proper dental hygiene in your daily routine.

Food Intolerance:  Food tolerance varies after gastric bypass surgery.  Bread and beef products can ball up and not pass through the digestive tract after surgery.  Avoid doughy or sandwich bread until 6 months to a year after surgery, and even then try toast first.  After about 2 months, lean ground beef is recommended in soups, chili, spaghetti sauce.  Tough or dry cuts of any meat should be avoided.  After 6 months to a year, tender lean cuts of red meat cooked soft may be tolerated.  Any dry tough foods that lump together or that cannot be finely chewed may not work well.  If a food is recommended in the "Education Manual" but you do not feel comfortable trying it yet - don't try it.  But by about 3 months after surgery, strive to start eating a variety of foods.

Those are the listed complications though the only one I would consider a true "complication" would be the stomal stenosis.  The others seem to be more of an inconvenience - yes, even the hair loss.  
"I praise you [God] because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." ~Psalm 139:14

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