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Will I encounter digestive problems after Gastric Bypass Surgery?

Gastric Bypass (Roux-en-Y) is considered to be the gold standard of bariatric surgery. In a gastric bypass, the stomach is divided into two portions, one smaller than the other. The smaller upper stomach which is connected to the food pipe is made into the active stomach by attaching the small intestine to it. With this reconstruction, the food that we eat bypasses the major part of the stomach and the proximal portion of the small intestine. The reduced size and capacity of the stomach and reduced length of the small intestine greatly help in weight reduction.

A study conducted by the British Journal of Surgery in Dec 2016 which followed 249 patients who underwent gastric bypass surgery showed that gastric bypass patients had higher instances of digestive problems like indigestion, diarrhea, flatulence, etc than normal. In this article, we are going to see the effects of gastric bypass surgery on your digestion.

Dumping Syndrome

One of the most commonly seen effects or results in patients after gastric bypass surgery is ‘dumping syndrome’. Dumping syndrome which is also known as ‘rapid gastric emptying’ occurs when food, especially sugar, moves too rapidly from the stomach into the small intestine. This can result in diarrhea, nausea and abdominal cramps.

Dumping syndrome can be easily avoided by eating smaller meals and avoiding food with high sugar content. It is also advisable, not to rush through your meals. Most people who have just had their surgery done to experience this. But as days pass by and when individuals adjust to the food, they normally overcome dumping syndrome.

Food Intolerance

Most patients (at least 75%) who have undergone gastric bypass surgery have developed intolerance towards fried foods, foods with high sugar, carbonated drinks, etc. This food intolerance is actually a boon rather than a bane. Intolerance towards unhealthy food can promote a healthy diet in patients after gastric bypass surgery.

On the other hand, certain healthy food may also not be accepted by their digestive system any longer. They can test this out when they eat such foods more than once. If such foods are causing repeated uneasiness, it is better to avoid them altogether.

Small Intestinal bacterial overgrowth

By nature, all of us have a certain amount of bacteria living in our intestines, called bacterial flora or gut flora. Very rarely after a gastric bypass, the balance between good and bad bacteria in the gut can be disturbed. This condition is, however, is extremely rare. This imbalance can eat up the nutrients your body needs and can cause cramps, bloating and diarrhea. In severe cases, this imbalance can cause mal-absorption and malnutrition. This condition can be easily treated and managed with a course of antibiotics.

Like any other surgery, gastric bypass surgery also has its fair share of side effects. But, the benefits of gastric bypass surgery for morbidly obese patients greatly outweigh the side effects which can be easily managed. And almost all of the complications can be easily resolved by following your bariatric surgeon’s advice strictly.

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