Experiencing chest pain at any point in life can be alarming, but chest pain after gastric bypass surgery can be explained by a number of avoidable factors. Here are the possible causes of chest pain and how to mitigate them. Optimize your health by staying informed of possible side effects after bariatric surgery.
What This Article Covers:
- Chest Pain After Gastric Bypass
- Left-Sided Pain After Gastric Bypass
- Gas Pain After Gastric Bypass
- Referred Pain
- Long-Term Chest Pain
Chest Pain After Gastric Bypass
Metabolic and bariatric surgery patients need to focus on cardiovascular health due to obesity-related complications. Any kind of chest pain should be taken seriously, including discomfort after laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery.
Pain after gastric bypass surgery is not uncommon in the abdominal and chest regions. This is due to the normal healing process following major surgery. Discomfort should be managed appropriately with the help of your healthcare team to minimize complications after roux-en-y gastric bypass.
The actual origin of discomfort is not always straightforward. Pain is related to the position of organs inside the body and the network of connected nerves that supply them.
However, it’s not only the area of discomfort that leads to a diagnosis. The type and duration of pain are relevant, as well as any other symptoms that accompany it.
This article explains the most common causes of chest pain after gastric bypass surgery.
Although chest pain may be experienced in post-bariatric surgery patients, it is most often related to gastric bypass side effects rather than heart disease.
Left-Sided Pain After Gastric Bypass
In some gastric bypass procedures, surgeons make an incision right below the ribs. Bruising and stretching of the muscles can occur in the area and may cause additional damage to nerves.
Muscle strain can cause intense pain on the left side after roux-en-y gastric bypass.
Mild to moderate discomfort can be felt below the ribs post-op with specific torso movements. Do not overwork the body after surgery. Make sure to follow recommendations made by your healthcare provider for activity after surgery.
Gas Pain After Gastric Bypass
During gastric bypass surgery, the abdomen is inflated with CO2, which helps make room for performing the procedure.
Not all CO2 is expelled after surgery and can collect in the left side of the abdominal cavity. This can create discomfort in the upper left corner of the abdomen, radiating into the left shoulder.
In order to minimize this feeling, start moving as soon as medically feasible post-op. This will allow the gas to move around and be pushed out. Deep breathing exercises and walking also help to eliminate trapped gas.
Gastric Pouch Pain
The gastric pouch is the newly created stomach after gastric bypass surgery. The pouch can be affected in several ways after surgery, causing discomfort.
It is important to be aware of the causes of pain after surgery. If you are experiencing pain, follow up with your bariatric surgeon or healthcare provider to ensure you receive the proper post-surgery support.
One of the most common causes of nausea and vomiting after bariatric surgery is an ulcer.
An ulcer can occur at any time after gastric bypass. Ulcers are sores that develop in the stomach lining and can be caused by certain medications or bacteria.
The discomfort from an ulcer is usually felt in the “epigastric” region, which is in the upper stomach, and may be confused as chest pain.
Ulcers can be mitigated with medical and nutritional therapy.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) occurs when stomach acid flows back from the stomach into the esophagus. The acid can irritate the lining of the esophagus, causing non-specific central chest pain.
Reflux disease is a common condition of obesity. Although many patients experience GERD, it is often relieved by gastric bypass surgery. If you are experiencing GERD, the procedure that is chosen can have different effects on GERD symptoms. Gastric bypass surgery typically mitigates symptoms of GERD compared to gastric sleeve surgery. (2)
Reflux can be maintained with medication that reduces the secretion of gastric acid. Elevating the head of the bed while lying down may also relieve symptoms.
Stenosis or stricture is a narrowing between the new stomach pouch and the small intestine. It usually occurs within three months of gastrointestinal surgery and is not typically painful but can be accompanied by other conditions, such as ulcers or anastomosis leakage.
The stricture can be addressed by your bariatric surgeon by inflating a special balloon during an endoscopy, but it is important that the underlying causes are assessed.
The esophagus is the muscular tube connecting your mouth and stomach. When these muscles spasm, it can feel like sudden chest pain that lasts from a few minutes to hours.
Chewing food well changes its consistency, making it easier to swallow. This can make the passage of food through the esophagus easier post-surgery. If the problem persists, your provider may temporarily advise a liquid diet using bariatric protein soups or shakes.*
Referred pain is when discomfort is felt in a location of the body different than the site of actual pain origin.
Pain following abdominal surgery, for example, may be felt in the chest due to the complex network of interconnected nerves that travel throughout the body and are responsible for sending pain signals to your brain.
Abdominal Pain That Feels Like Chest Pain
As explained, the complex network of interconnected nerves throughout the body can present discomfort in an area of the body instead of the actual origin site. For example, pain can originate in the abdomen but be mistaken for chest pain. The stomach is at the top of the abdominal cavity, and many conditions can refer pain into the chest.
Discomfort immediately after bariatric surgery is to be expected at the port sites and should subside by day three. Medications prescribed by your healthcare team can relieve postoperative pain. Severe pain extending beyond day three needs to be investigated by your bariatric surgeon or healthcare team.
An abscess can occur at the surgical port site or can be caused by an intra-abdominal infection. This may require thorough evaluation using active antibiotics, analgesics, and possible drainage in the case of an abscess.
Anastomosis leakage from the staple site is a risk of gastric bypass surgery. An anastomotic leak can occur soon after surgery or several weeks post-op.
Symptoms can differ from person to person, but usually include: (1)
- Chest pain
- Rapid heart rate
- Nausea and vomiting
- Left shoulder pain
- Shortness of breath
- General abdominal pain
Leaks are a common complication following gastric bypass surgery, but they can become severely dangerous if left untreated. Be sure to seek medical assistance if you suspect an anastomotic leak.
Long-Term Chest Pain
Common causes of long-term chest pain following metabolic and bariatric surgery are often avoidable. If there are risk factors, schedule regular appointments with your healthcare team to monitor your ongoing health status.
Keep in mind that if you are experiencing chest pain, you should always consult with your medical provider. However, it is reassuring to know that chest pain can also be related to side effects or anatomical changes in the abdomen following surgery.
Poor Eating Habits
Pain after eating following bariatric surgery can occur when recommended food portion sizes are exceeded. The new stomach pouch has to accommodate for large portion sizes that are eaten, resulting in abdominal discomfort and nausea. Eating slowly and taking small bites will help relieve discomfort.
Food Stuck After Gastric Bypass
The occasional feeling of food being stuck after gastric bypass is a common result of not chewing properly. This may cause chest discomfort and lead to vomiting.
Be sure to eat small bites and chew food thoroughly.
Like GERD, heartburn is another contributing factor to stomach pain, although it can be felt as chest pain, as mentioned above.
There are certain medications that are not suggested after metabolic and bariatric surgery. NSAIDs can cause gastric complications like ulcers. When your healthcare provider prescribes a medication for you, ask questions. Remind them that you are a patient who has undergone gastric bypass surgery. Request information about the side effects of any prescribed drugs.
Approximately 20% of patients undergoing metabolic and bariatric surgery can develop complications. (3) Understanding the possible complications allows for proper monitoring and care.
While chest pain is frightening, it is reassuring to know that often after weight loss surgery, the source is the abdomen and is not life-threatening. Having said that, any kind of chest pain that is experienced, with or without surgery, should be discussed with a qualified healthcare provider immediately for proper evaluation and treatment.
Are you looking for well-tolerated supplements designed for metabolic and bariatric patients?* Bariatric Fusion carries multivitamins, protein powders, and chewable vitamins designed by a team of bariatric specialists.
Did you find out blog helpful? Then consider checking:
- Gastric Bypass Risks
- Fatigue After Gastric Bypass
- Hair Loss After Gastric Bypass
- Duodenal Switch Complications
- Depression After Bariatric Surgery
- Hormone Changes After Bariatric Surgery
- Thyroid Problems After Gastric Bypass
- Hiccups After Gastric Sleeve
- Constipation After Sleeve Gastrectomy
- Nausea After Gastric Sleeve Surgery
- Dehydration After Bariatric Surgery
- Gastric Bands Side Effects
- Anorexia After Gastric Sleeve
- Burping After Gastric Sleeve
**This blog is for information and education purposes only. This information is not intended to substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult with your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions in regards to a medical condition. A qualified healthcare professional can best assist you in deciding whether a dietary supplement is suitable based on your individual needs.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.