Being obese or overweight can be due to an excessive accumulation of body fats. You may be obese due to many reasons namely, genetic make-up of your body, the types of foods you regularly consume as well as how often you work out or exercise. A comprehensive treatment plan is recommended to shed extra flab. This plan often includes making changes to your diet plans, adhering to a strict exercise regimen as well as intake of a few anti-obesity medications such as phentermine. At times, the treatment plan may involve a few surgical procedures. Gastric bypass is a surgical procedure done to treat morbid levels of obesity; such morbid levels are marked by a body mass index (BMI) in excess of 35 or 40. This surgical procedure is however known to trigger a few adverse side effects. It is hence important to know about the side effects of gastric bypass procedure before opting for it.

Body mass index (BMI) is a commonly used parameter. It is based on your height and weight (mass). People with a body mass index (BMI) value of more than 25 are likely to witness risks of high blood pressure (hypertension), weakness of bones, heart problems, sleep related disorders, strokes, cancers, diabetes (especially, type 2), infertility, etc. In general, drugs are prescribed to reduce the absorption levels of fats and to decrease your appetite levels. A workout regimen is also recommended with pre-set weight loss goals. Also, a bodyweight loss-oriented diet plan is prescribed to decrease additional pounds.

With an alarming increase in obesity levels among both children and grown-ups, obesity is fast turning into a common medical condition. Studies reveal that women are more vulnerable than males. Though obesity is viewed as a symbol of wealth and prosperity, many medical associations have declared it as a medical condition or a disease. For example, it is categorised as a disease by the American Heart Association (AHA) as well as the American Medical Association (AMA). When anti-obesity drugs and exercise regimen offer little help in reducing flab, your treating doctor may suggest a gastric bypass procedure.

A gastric bypass is performed when your obesity level interrupts with the normal functioning of your body. If left untreated, it can impair your wellbeing and can lead to near-fatal or fatal outcomes. This procedure involves surgical shrinking of your stomach. By this shrinkage, you tend to eat much lesser than before. This procedure creates a pouch at the top part of your stomach. It helps to bypass stomach and enables foods to travel directly to your intestines. This surgical procedure can help lose weight in relatively a shorter span of time. Post-bypass, people have experienced weight reduction of as high as 75% of excessive bodyweight in as short as 15 to 20 months. But, this procedure does pose a few risks and some adverse side effects.

Side effects of gastric bypass procedure

This surgery is known to cause a few side effects. Common side effects include drying of lips due to dehydration, formation of stones in gallbladder or kidneys, swallowing problems, dumping syndrome, loss of hair, a few dental conditions, becoming allergic to a few types of foods as well as chronic spells of dyspepsia (indigestion).

Drying of lips owing to dehydration

You are likely to witness frequent spells of dehydration. Your medical team will recommend intake of adequate amounts of fluids such as water. Soon after the procedure, your daily intake of water may need to be not less than two (2) liters. If you do not drink ample quantity of fluids each day, you are likely to witness abdominal problems such as vomiting, nausea, etc. In some extreme cases, you may need to get proper medical attention in a hospital or a clinical setting. It is highly recommended to talk to your surgeon about the right amounts of fluids to be taken – especially in the weeks immediately after the gastric bypass procedure.

Formation of stones in gallbladder or kidneys

A rapid loss of body weight can result in formation of stones in the gallbladder. These stones are essentially hardened fats, such as cholesterol. Your surgical team may counter it by recommending supplements of bile salts. In some rare instances, your surgeon may recommend a surgical removal of the gall bladder. Also, the risks of kidney stones are also high. The basic reasons behind formation of kidney stones remain under scientific scrutiny and clinical study. However, a few recent studies indicate that the changes in chemical composition of urine and an altered rate of digestion as likely reasons. In order to counter such risks, you need to drink lots of fluids in the weeks following the gastric bypass procedure.

Difficulties experienced while swallowing

Those who eat faster or who do not chew their foods well often experience this side effect. As soon as you notice pains while swallowing foods, you need to consult your surgeon or treating doctor. As a safety measure, you are advised to eat slowly. It is also a good habit to chew your foods well. The best way to handle this is to chew foods into a liquid before you let them enter into the food pipe. Well-chewed food – by taking the needful time to chew foods to a liquid form – is a proven way to counter swallowing problems.

Dumping syndrome

This is a common occurrence soon after a gastric bypass procedure. This occurs mainly because of foods traveling faster to reach your intestines (especially, the small intestine). The typical signs of this syndrome are excessive levels of weariness, alterations in your bowel movements, rapid heartbeats, drowsiness and dizziness. Most of these adverse effects are due to the emptying of your stomach at a much faster rate than before. This side effect is actually a benefit; this syndrome by itself helps regulate the types of foods one can eat. So, those who do not witness this syndrome may still be free to choose foods they like the most – which may not be good sign, especially after a gastric bypass procedure.

Loss of hair

In general, inability to consume a well-balanced diet often leads to loss of hair. In case of gastric bypass, your body may witness inadequate supply of nutrients soon after the procedure. This is your body’s natural response to a surgical procedure. Some doctors believe that the loss of hair can also be due to a sudden loss of body weight. The good news here is – the hair you lost may regrow in some 4 to 7 months after the surgical procedure. If your hair loss gets out of control, you are advised to consult a qualified dietitian immediately. You may also be advised to take foods rich in zinc, magnesium as well as supplements of calcium. Also, you may need to ensure that the foods you take every day do have needful amounts of vitamins – especially, vitamin A, B and essential proteins.

Dental conditions

You are likely to notice a few problems in your teeth. These problems are largely attributed to an altered level of pH value of your saliva. It is also due to inability to absorb or because of a poor absorption of essential nutrients as well as vitamins. In some cases, problems such as heartburns or acid reflux may be likely causes. When foods “climb” up your food pipe, they can bring acids to get in touch with your oral parts; this can also lead to bad breath and a few dental conditions. As a precautionary measure, you are advised to take good care of your teeth. It is also a good practice to maintain good oral hygiene by brushing, flossing and cleaning your teeth regularly.

Becoming allergic to a few foods

After the surgery, you may develop allergies or intolerance to foods such as those containing highly saturated fats or fried items, foods made with sugars or honey, juices extracted from fruits, etc. You may also need to be cautious while taking foods like dry meat or tough meats, pasta, soda or other carbonated drinks, foods containing fibers, nuts as well as alcohol. Intake of a large amount of alcohol is not recommended for various reasons – key among those reasons are (1) the odds of damages caused to the liver become high and (2) presence of a large amount of calories in alcohol-based drinks can lead to other complications.

Intake of aforesaid fluids and foods may lead to nausea, indigestion, vomiting, constipation (difficulties to pass stools) and formation of gas or bloating. Apart from foods, you need to be careful while taking pain relievers; some of these drugs may cause ulcers or other medical conditions. It is hence very important to talk to your dietitian to understand the foods to be avoided after a gastric bypass surgery.

Indigestion due to difficulties in digesting foods

Consumption of oily foods or excessive intake of alcohol can lead to digestive disorders. As a result, you may experience pain in the top part of the abdomen or may witness a feeling of irritation or burning in your gut. In a few instances, taking drugs like aspirin has caused these adverse side effects. If these adverse effects persist for long – i.e., after making needful changes to the diet – your doctor may prescribe antacids or other stomach acid reducers as a remedial measure.

In sum, gastric bypass procedure is known to cause a few side effects. Some of its common side effects include dehydration, stones in your gallbladder or kidneys, difficulties to swallow foods, dumping syndrome triggered by faster movement of foods in the gastric tract, excessive loss of hair, dental conditions, indigestion, vomiting, nausea and difficulties to tolerate or digest a few types of foods. It is unlikely that you may experience all the side effects listed above. But, a few of these adverse reactions may show up. In such instances, you need to take needful measures to stop these discomforts. For example, to counter an excessive fall of hair, it is necessary to take vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin D as well as consume needful amounts of vitamin E.

In the weeks succeeding your surgery, you may also witness a few allergies to foods. Allergic reactions may occur while taking foods made with high saturated fats, fried food items, foods prepared with honey or sugar, fruit juices, etc. You may also need to stay away from taking foods such as hard meats, carbonated drinks, fiber-rich foods, alcohol, nuts, etc. Those who have lifestyle habits of excessive intake of alcohol must talk to their surgical team. Consumption of excessive amounts of alcohol can lead to higher build-up of calories and this may damage your liver. Your surgical team will advise you to minimise or better still, discontinue the intake of alcohol.

In general, you may be advised to stay away from foods that are rich in sugars, fibers or starch. In other words, you must say not to sweets, fried foods, milk products as well as rice or other starch-rich food products. Above all, you are advised to talk to your dietitian as well as the treating doctor if you need more guidance after a gastric bypass procedure.

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