Bariatric surgery is an effective way to manage obesity and other related health problems. While these types of procedures bring effective and immediate results, it is important to consider their side effects too.

Most bariatric surgeries are non-reversible, which is why it is important to consider which one you should get. The side effects may vary according to the type of surgery performed. Most of these weight loss procedures limit the amount of food that patients can eat. However, there are other side effects that can also make post-surgery life difficult for patients.

It is important for patients to consider these post-surgery effects so they can manage their life better after the procedure. Below are some of the most common side effects of weight loss surgeries and tips on how to prevent them.

Iron Deficiency

Iron deficiency is one of the most common side effects that bariatric patients suffer from. Anemia and iron deficiency are common after surgery, especially for women who have undergone gastric bypass surgery. Women who are within the childbearing age, from puberty until the menopausal period, are at higher risk of anemia.

Iron is an essential nutrient for the body to produce healthy red blood cells. However, after gastric bypass surgery, the body cannot absorb the same amount of iron as they normally do. This leads to iron deficiency, which may develop into other health problem such as anemia.

There are bariatric surgeries wherein the part of the small intestine digesting iron is bypassed. This reduces the ability of the body to digest and absorb iron. Side effects may be more noticeable after the surgery due to wound healing. If patients fail to take the recommended daily intake of iron, they may develop long-term side effects.

Symptoms of iron deficiency include weakness, cold hands and feet, dizziness or lightheadedness, shortness of breath, and extreme fatigue. For bariatric patients who are recovering from the surgery, these may be normal. However, if they persist, consult a doctor immediately.

The physical changes done on the stomach and intestines do not only limit the amount of food you can eat. It also reduces the nutrients that your body can absorb. This means that patients are more at risk of nutrient deficiencies. The best way to prevent iron deficiency is by taking an iron supplement. Patients should also eat food rich in iron such as poultry, legumes, and seafood.

Calcium Deficiency

Calcium is a nutrient that is responsible for various body functions, including keeping bones and teeth healthy. However, it is one of the most common nutrients that bariatric patients may not be able to absorb depending on the type of surgery performed.

Like iron, calcium is also digested and absorbed in the same area of the small intestine that may be bypassed by food after surgery. Roux-en-Y gastric bypass is a sample of weight loss procedure that can cause this. Because food doesn’t pass through this area, calcium is not digested properly and patients may not get enough from their diet.

Calcium deficiency can lead to various health problems including weakening of bones and teeth. Since calcium is also essential for mental health, patients may suffer from confusion or memory loss. Other symptoms of calcium deficiency include numbness or tingling in various areas of the body, muscle cramps, and muscle spasms.

Make sure to consult a medical professional when you suffer from these symptoms often after the surgery. They may lead to serious long-term effects. Calcium deficiency not only increases risk of osteoporosis. Patients may also develop cataracts and even mental disorders such as depression.

Patients may also be at risk for calcium deficiency when their body lacks Vitamin D, which is necessary for the body to absorb calcium. This is why it is important to take bariatric multivitamins that deliver various calcium to ensure that they do not suffer from serious side effects.

Dumping Syndrome

Dumping syndrome is a common side effect of bariatric surgeries where physical alterations are done on the stomach. This side effect causes the food to be dumped directly into the small intestine, passing through the stomach pouch. Food is not digested, which may lead to various other problems such as malabsorption.

Dumping syndrome may occur early or late. For early dumping syndrome, the food can reach the intestine within 10 to 30 minutes. Patients will feel full and bloated. Diarrhea is also most likely to occur within an hour after eating. It is also possible for patients to experience high blood pressure and heart rate with dumping syndrome.

For late dumping syndrome, the symptoms may only start within one to three hours after eating. Patients with late dumping syndrome may experience heart palpitations, tremors, and sweating as symptoms.

To prevent dumping syndrome, patients should avoid eating too much during meals. It is better to eat six to eight small meals per day instead of three. Eating small amounts of food prevents the burden on the stomach pouch, which triggers dumping syndrome. This also allows proper digestion of food. Patients should also include protein-rich food in their diet.

Reduced Physical Activity

Bariatric surgery is an immediate solution to obesity and related health problems. However, due to the small amount of food that patients can only eat, they may lack the energy to do normal physical activities. This is why it is important to take multivitamins that do not only provide essential nutrients, but energy as well.

Reduced physical activity may be due to other side effects of the surgery such as increased risk of experiencing nausea and vomiting. But there are other ways to counter these side effects. Having a healthy diet is one of them. Bariatric patients should also do some light exercises or physical activities that may improve the resistance of their body.

It is recommended to avoid doing any physical activities within one to two months after surgery. This can cause the healing to prolong. However, patients should commit to a regular exercise that can help build their muscles and improve cardiovascular health after recovering. This also aids in losing weight fast while maintaining a healthy and fit body.

Most bariatric patients experience fast weight loss after bariatric surgery. However, this does not mean that they also achieve a fit body. Incorporating exercise to daily activities may just help patients achieve a stable weight and a healthier, stronger body.

Nausea and Vomiting

The most common side effects of bariatric surgery are nausea and vomiting. These are considered minor when compared to other side effects. However, they can make the life of bariatric patients more difficult.

Patients may not only suffer from nausea and vomiting just from eating. They can also experience these side effects with something as simple as doing physical activities. That is why taking precautions is a must. Nausea and vomiting can have triggers that patients can avoid to prevent them.

A common cause of nausea and vomiting is overeating. The amount of food that the stomach can hold affects the ability of patients to eat and digest food. This may also apply to solid medications such as tablets and chewables. Not eating food thoroughly or eating too much can both cause patients to feel nauseated.

Thankfully, there are ways that you can avoid nausea and vomiting completely. Patients should chew their food thoroughly. This helps the stomach digest food better. Eating slowly can also help you monitor the feeling of fullness.

Food Intolerance

Due to the physical change in stomach and intestines, patients may develop new food intolerances. This is why you need to consult doctors after the surgery. Bariatric patients should consider the type of supplements, medication, and food they can eat. This prevents complications after the procedure, especially if they have new food intolerances.

Patients should also make sure to eat only small amounts of food at first. This helps them determine if they have developed food intolerances after surgery. Some of the food bariatric patients commonly develop an intolerance for are dairy, fried food, and carbonated drinks.

With food intolerance, there are many possible side effects. Patients can experience diarrhea, sweating, and stomach cramps. For bariatric patients, these side effects may cause a lot of difficulties. This is why it is necessary for patients to monitor what they eat.

Eating a healthy diet with nutrient-rich food such as fruits and vegetables is a must. Patients should also avoid junk food, which do not provide sustenance at all. Most of all, they should consult a doctor or dietitian to come up with a healthy meal plan that they can enjoy.

While bariatric surgeries have side effects that can make post-surgery life more difficult, the benefits of these procedures still outweigh the disadvantages. In fact, bariatric patients report that they have a happier, healthier, and more comfortable life after the procedure. Life expectancy for patients is also improved. Obesity-related health problems became easier to manage.

With manageable side effects and various benefits, it is safe to say that bariatric surgeries are indeed the best solution for obesity-related health problems. Plus, there are various ways to prevent and counter these side effects.