Advanced laparoscopic bariatric (weight loss) procedures can have enormous benefits for obese patients, but as with any surgery, have potential side effects. Fortunately, many side effects of weight loss surgery can be avoided with a proper diet and adhering to the recommended food consumption techniques.
Vadim Gritsus, M.D. is a New Jersey bariatric surgeon who is committed to his patients’ long-term success. When you come to Dr. Gritsus for weight loss surgery, he will ensure that you have all the information you need to minimize the side effects of the procedure, as well as maximize the benefits.
Common Side Effects of Bariatric Surgery
Surgical procedures to correct obesity involve changes to your anatomy that affect the way your body processes food, and that can cause side effects.
Common side effects of gastric bypass surgery and other bariatric procedures include:
- Dumping Syndrome: Shortly or immediately after eating, you may experience dizziness, weakness, flushing, warmth, nausea, and palpitation caused by the stomach emptying at an abnormally rapid rate. These symptoms can usually be avoided by eating a proper bariatric diet and avoiding sugar, refined carbohydrates, and unnecessary fats.
- Indigestion: Patients sometimes have difficulty digesting certain foods after surgery and may experience discomfort or a burning sensation in the upper abdomen. If this occurs, you may need to change your diet to eliminate greasy foods, restrict your liquid intake to certain times of day, or avoid alcohol, aspirin, and other medications.
- Dehydration: Much of the water our bodies need comes from our food. When food intake is greatly reduced after weight loss surgery, it is important to drink a lot of water – up to 2 liters a day – to prevent dehydration. Otherwise, you may experience nausea and vomiting, and if you become severely dehydrated, you may need IV fluids and vitamins.
- Dental problems: Several factors can contribute to problems with the teeth after bariatric surgery – malabsorption of nutrients; not taking the necessary vitamins in the right amounts; unaddressed acid reflux or vomiting; poor dental hygiene; and changes in the pH of the saliva after surgery.
- Hair loss: This could be caused by nutritional deficiencies or it could simply be the body’s reaction to major surgery and substantial weight loss. The good news is that it is usually temporary and the hair should grow back within 3 to 6 months after surgery. Taking the right supplements, including B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and protein, can help prevent hair loss and encourage re-growth.
- Difficulty swallowing: This side effect can usually be avoided by making sure that you do not eat too much or too quickly and that you chew your food thoroughly.
- Gallstones: As many as one-third of bariatric surgery patients develop gallstones because of the rapid weight loss that occurs after the procedure. Your doctor may prescribe bile salt supplements after your surgery to help prevent or dissolve gallstones.
Obesity can cause serious health problems, shorten your lifespan, and reduce your quality of life. Although bariatric procedures have the risk of certain side effects, the benefits of correcting this serious chronic disease by far outweigh the risks.