Gastric sleeve surgery, like any surgery, may come with some uncomfortable side effects. Some of these side effects, especially those associated with pain, occur directly after eating.
For many people, this can be concerning. You may think that you have done something wrong.
This is probably because patients are warned that they may experience discomfort after eating, whereas pain may point toward some other complication.
Luckily, pain after eating is one of the most common gastric sleeve and gastric bypass side effects that affects patients.
What causes this pain? What can you do to stop it?
In this article, find out why pain after eating may occur, how you can prevent it from happening in the future, and what you can do to relieve your symptoms.
What This Article Covers:
Gastric Sleeve Pain After Eating
Why Do Patients Experience Pain After Eating?
Most people experience pain post-surgery due to overeating. It can also be caused by other factors and risks associated with bariatric surgery.
Overeating occurs because it can be difficult to adapt to the new diet plan and portion sizes. Many people struggle to modify their old eating habits.
When you overeat, the effects can be felt soon after eating.
Overeating occurs when eating too fast or not chewing food thoroughly. Too much food reaches the stomach at once, which may lead to discomfort and pain.
Below we discuss some of the most common types of pain that bariatric patients experience when overeating and what their causes are.
Pain Due to Overeating
Abdominal pain after gastric bypass surgery is probably the most common type of pain that patients may experience after they eat. When this type of pain occurs, it probably means that you ate too much.
It is important to remember that surgery shrinks the size of the stomach pouch to only hold about one cup of food.
By consistently engaging in overeating, you are essentially forcing more food into the digestive system than is allowed. This leads to abdominal pain and cramps. This can also stretch the stomach over time in order to accommodate for the food you are eating.
If abdominal pain only occurs after eating and you know that you have been eating too much or too fast, there is a simple fix.
Simply wait for the discomfort to subside and make conscious efforts to eat slower and more mindfully in the future.
If the pain persists and gets progressively worse, you need to consult your physician as this may be the result of a leak or perforation and urgent medical attention is needed.
Keep in mind, when abdominal pain is coupled with pain in the left shoulder, these are often symptoms of a leak.
A leak is treatable when identified early and should be treated in a timely fashion to avoid gastric bypass complications years later.
Another symptom that people can experience after eating is esophageal spasms or cramps.
The esophagus is responsible for squeezing the food we swallow so that it can reach the stomach.
Many people find this type of pain confusing because this is not the site of the procedure, but there is an explanation for it.
This symptom is typically food stuck after gastric bypass.
When people overeat or eat too fast, the newly narrowed opening to the stomach pouch can struggle to accommodate the amount of food that it receives and this can lead to food getting stuck.
This type of blockage after gastric bypass surgery is also referred to as “plugging” and causes pain and discomfort.
Luckily, this can easily be remedied by waiting for the discomfort to pass. You may feel comfort in walking around. Make sure in the future you are eating small portions, slowly, and only drinking beverages between meals.
The experience of getting your food stuck when eating too fast can also manifest as chest pain. So, if you experience pain in the chest or esophagus after eating, you are probably experiencing plugging and the only thing to do is to wait for it to pass.
Consult your physician if the pain persists or if it happens often as this can cause permanent damage to the esophagus.
Pain Caused by Other Factors
There are also some other conditions that may cause pain in gastric sleeve patients after eating.
These do not necessarily relate to overeating, but rather exist as the result of some comorbidity symptoms.
Some of the pain that may be experienced after eating can be attributed to the build-up of gas.
Some hormone changes after bariatric surgery can alter the way your body processes food and can increase gas production.
In general, it is recommended to stay away from dairy products and beans if you are struggling with gas. Spicy foods are also not recommended on a post-bariatric diet for the same reason.
Some patients find that foods that were easily palatable before, are now harder to digest.
You can easily gauge which foods trigger gas by looking at it from a trial-and-error perspective.
It is also important to note that some people swallow air when drinking, eating, or talking, which may be more notable following bariatric surgery.
For this reason, you should be conscious of how much you eat and when your portion size or food options trigger gas in the body.
Gas manifests as discomfort and pain in the upper abdomen or diaphragm and can also lead to hiccups after gastric sleeve surgery.
As with non-bariatric patients, gas build-up is a relatively normal condition and not something you should worry too much about.
If you want to reduce pain or discomfort, you should avoid eating foods that make you gassy.
It is common for bariatric patients to struggle with constipation after eating.
In fact, constipation after sleeve gastrectomy is one of the most common problems after gastric bypass surgery and gastric sleeve surgery.
The dietary changes that occur post-surgery are quite restrictive and they transform the way your body digests food.
In addition, you might also be lacking some important micro and macronutrients that assist with digestion.
A lack of fiber has also been widely reported and may contribute to feelings of constipation.
In this regard, a bariatric meal replacement can assist patients in consuming enough nutrients and fiber to prevent constipation.
Constipation is especially prevalent in the early weeks after surgery.
Dumping Syndrome affects many patients who have undergone bariatric surgery and refers to the scenario where food moves from the stomach directly to the small intestine with limited digestion.
This process occurs directly after eating and may manifest as early or late dumping.
Early dumping can happen as soon as 10-30 minutes after eating whereas late dumping occurs anywhere between one to three hours after eating.
If you are experiencing pain within this timeframe, you may be suffering from Dumping Syndrome.
Early dumping is the most common and is associated with a variety of symptoms, including abdominal pain and discomfort.
It can also lead to vomiting or nausea after gastric sleeve surgery. Dumping syndrome is usually treated with dietary changes or behavioral modifications.
For example, it is recommended that you do not drink liquids until half an hour after your meal and eat 6 small meals a day as opposed to three larger ones.
In terms of diet, patients are often advised to refrain from eating high sugar, refined carbohydrates, avoid dairy products, and high fat options.
Tips to Relieve Pain
If you are experiencing any of the pain above, what should you do?
Any type of pain experienced above can be relieved with mild movement.
If you experience cramps, discomfort or pain, allow blood to flow to that area by moving around a bit. You can do this by engaging in a mild form of exercise, such as walking or yoga. It is very important to not overexert yourself when you are experiencing pain.
In addition, you can also apply a heat or ice pack to relieve the pain.
Sometimes, breathing exercises are also recommended as a way to make patients more comfortable.
Most physicians will advise patients on how to engage in proper breathing exercises whenever they are experiencing pain or discomfort post-surgery.
Remember to always eat slowly and consume small meals throughout the day to also avoid pain.
Pain after eating for bariatric patients is a common symptom, typically due to overeating or eating too fast.
This may manifest as abdominal pain and cramping or pain in the chest or esophagus.
With a few modifications to the way you eat, you can easily minimize the risk of experiencing pain and discomfort when eating.
Some of the pain that patients experience after eating may be due to other factors such as gas, constipation, or dumping syndrome.
Luckily, these symptoms can also be relieved by ensuring that you get enough nutrients and following your diet closely.
Remember to take it easy during the recovery process and that pain, like most other symptoms, will pass as time goes by.
Did you find our blog helpful? Then consider checking:
- Gastric Bypass Risks
- Vomiting After Gastric Sleeve Surgery
- Fatigue After Gastric Bypass
- Thyroid Problems After Gastric Bypass
- Gastric Bypass Complications
- Hair Loss After Gastric Bypass
- Duodenal Switch Complications
- Depression After Bariatric Surgery
- Dehydration After Bariatric Surgery
- Gastric Bands Side Effects
- Anorexia After Gastric Sleeve
- Burping After Gastric Sleeve
- Low Blood Sugar After Gastric Bypass Surgery
- Gallbladder Problems After Gastric Bypass
**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.