Weight loss surgery works by reducing the stomach pouch size of the patient. This reduces their food intake and thereby their calorie intake too. However, there is a downside to this. Food is a source of not only calories, but also essential nutrients that help the body maintain its everyday functions. Therefore, bariatric surgery patients are prescribed a balanced diet plan by a dietitian. But, it should be noted that their body is still coping with the drastic change in the lifestyle, which may lead to problems like constipation.
Why Patients Experience Constipation?
The restrictive diet that weight loss surgery patients follow often leads to decreased fiber and water intake. The patients should also be on a regular dose of iron & calcium supplements, and other medications that can cause digestive complications. These factors, combined with low physical activity after gastric sleeve or gastric bypass surgery, can cause reduced bowel movements, which can lead to constipation.
Tips to Relieve Constipation
Patients who are experiencing constipation can try one or more of these tips.
It is common for people to drink water when they eat. However, weight loss surgery patients are urged to hold off drinking fluids until 30 minutes after their meals. (link https://www.wlsafterlife.com/health/hydration-health/why-wls-patients-shouldnt-drink-while-they-eat/) As gastric bypass or gastric sleeve surgery restricts what they eat, water consumption takes a hit too. To address this issue, patients must drink small quantities of water throughout the day. They should keep a water bottle close at all times and drink a minimum of 48 ounces every day. Hydration will help in softening the stool and relieving constipation.
Take Fiber-Rich Foods
After the weight loss surgery, a typical diet is focused on proteins to help maintain the muscle mass. However, this may mean a reduction in fiber intake, which, in turn, can lead to constipation. Patients must consult their surgeons and ask them to prescribe fiber supplements.
Avoid Food that Cause Constipation
More often than not, patients do not have a clue as to which foods cause them constipation. The most common culprits are cheese, potato, banana, rice, and peanut butter, among others. It is advised to avoid them as much as possible.
Understandably, engaging in intense physical activity right after the surgery is not a good idea. However, patients can go for short walks throughout the day whenever they find the time. The physical activity will not only help in burning extra calories but also help with constipation.
Change the Supplements
Some forms of vitamin and mineral supplements are better suited for patients suffering from constipation than others. These can include supplements containing calcium citrate, ferrous gluconate, and ferrous fumerate. Patients should ask their doctor or nutritionist which ones that they recommend for those suffering with constipation.
It is always preferable that patients go for natural ways to relieve their constipation. However, if the constipation does not go away, they should call their doctor’s office. The doctor can then prescribe them laxatives to resolve constipation. Patients should refrain from self-medicating, as that can lead to undesired results.
The first step to a smooth post-surgery journey is to follow all the instructions received from the bariatric surgeon. As constipation is a common occurrence among bariatric surgery patients, the instructions from surgeons often include solutions against constipation too. However, patients must contact the surgeon immediately when they notice any symptoms of constipation to ensure that they do not suffer from any blockages.