Is Constipation a Side Effect of Gastric Sleeve Surgery?

October 16, 2014 — by Fernando Garcia
Tags: Gastric Sleeve Side Effects

An x-ray view of the digestive tractOne reason that many patients come to Dr. Fernando Garcia's Tijuana weight loss practice is his straight talk about bariatrics. Whether patients undergo low-maintenance and highly effective gastric sleeve surgery (sleeve gastrectomy), a gastric band procedure, or gastric bypass, we will always inform patients of the benefits as well as the risks involved. This goes for subjects that may be taboo. For instance: constipation after weight loss surgery.

How common is constipation after weight loss surgery?

Constipation is actually a fairly common side effect that weight loss surgery patients experience. This is something that people don't often consider, but changes to the digestive tract--even with a relatively low-maintenance weight loss surgery like the gastric sleeve--will result in changes to the body that you may not have expected.

There are a number of reasons that weight loss surgery patients may suffer from constipation, though it's generally most noticeable during the first three months after the surgery has been performed.

Causes of Constipation Following Bariatric Procedures

The most common causes of constipation in bariatric surgery patients are as follows:

  • Reduced food intake
  • Reduced intake of water
  • Reduced physical activity
  • Side effects of iron and/or supplements
  • Side effects of pain relievers

The combination of multiple or all of the above can result in some major problems with constipation that can alarm patients as they recover. Never fear, there are solutions.

How Bariatric Surgery Patients Can Treat Constipation

If you have not had a bowel movement in two or three days, many bariatric surgeons will recommend that patients take laxatives, such as Dulcolax. Because of your surgery, the recommended dosage and use will need to be carefully considered, so be sure to consult our team before taking any laxatives on your own.

The use of Dulcolax is good to address the intestinal discomfort that you may be facing in the short term. As for long-term solutions, there are plenty of things that patients can do to prevent constipation from happened.

How Bariatric Surgery Patients Can Prevent Constipation

In order to prevent constipation, weight loss surgery patients should consider the following tips:

  • Stay Well Hydrated - Drinking water through the day will help you soften your stool
  • Get Fiber In Your Diet - Though your post-bariatric surgery diet stresses high-protein foods, be sure to consume healthy fiber to assist with bowel movements; fiber supplements may be helpful as well
  • Avoid Foods That Cause Constipation - Foods such as bananas, rice, potatoes, peanut butter, and cheese can make bowel movements more difficult, so be sure to avoid or limit intake of those items
  • Exercise Regularly - Regular exercise can actually help you have better digestive health and can reduce the likelihood of constipation

Consult with Your Surgeon for Additional Tips and Advice

If you are still having issues with constipation and bowel movements, it's important that you get in touch with our team. We can discuss a better diet plan as well as what dietary supplements may help you become regular again. Do not feel embarrassed to ask us anything--we are here to help you.

Learn More About Bariatric Surgery Options

For more information about side effects following weight loss surgery and how you can improve your overall health and wellness, be sure to contact our bariatric surgery center today. Dr. Garcia and the entire team look forward to your visit and helping you make smart choices about your health and wellness.