Have you experienced nausea or vomiting after gastric sleeve surgery? Did you know that untreated vomiting can cause long-term complications? In this article, we discuss the causes of vomiting after weight loss surgery and how to prevent it.
Vomiting After Gastric Sleeve Surgery
Aside from life-changing weight loss, gastric sleeve surgery can offer many other health benefits. Metabolic and bariatric surgery (MBS) patients can experience stable blood sugars, maintenance of cardiovascular health, and improvement in obesity-related conditions.
Laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy surgery is an efficient and safe weight loss option; however, there are possible side effects of bariatric surgery. These can include vomiting after gastric bypass and gastric sleeve surgery.
This article discusses the most common causes of vomiting and how to mitigate them.
Is Vomiting After Bariatric Surgery Common?
It is not uncommon to experience vomiting and nausea after gastric sleeve surgery.
Studies reveal that almost 36% of metabolic and bariatric surgery patients experience postoperative nausea. (1)
Following laparoscopic gastric sleeve surgery, nausea should pass within about 48 hours. The most common cause is not adhering to dietary guidelines recommended by your dietitian or bariatric surgeon.
Causes Of Postoperative Vomiting
Postoperative Side Effects
Nausea and vomiting can be common side effects of bariatric procedures. While the exact cause of nausea and vomiting post-surgery is unknown, several factors can trigger it.
For example, general anesthesia, pain medications, and pain itself can cause nausea and vomiting. Fast or excessive movement too soon after a procedure can also induce vomiting.
Healthcare practitioners address post-surgery nausea and vomiting with a protocol of various medications to mitigate symptoms and possible damage to the surgery site.
Food Intolerances After Bariatric Surgery
It is common to experience intolerance to certain foods after laparoscopic gastric sleeve surgery, such as lactose intolerance. Surgical alterations affect the way the body processes food. A smaller gastric pouch results in foods and liquids moving more quickly through the digestive tract, allowing less time for enzymes like lactase to break down the lactose in dairy products.
Food intolerances will differ in each person as the body adapts and recovers after weight loss surgery.
According to research, the types of food that cause the most intolerance are non-essential, high fat, or high sugar foods. Red meat is also a frequently reported intolerance. (2)
Following metabolic and bariatric surgery, the key is to introduce individual foods in small amounts to assess tolerance.
Eating Too Fast
Mindful eating is a term that is commonly used, but what does it mean? Mindful eating focuses on the awareness of foods and beverages you are consuming and how often. Eating too quickly may induce nausea and vomiting after gastric sleeve and gastric bypass surgery.
The general recommendation is to take 30 minutes to eat a meal. However, this will depend on what you are eating and how far out from weight loss surgery you are.
A tip to implement slower eating is to use smaller utensils. This not only slows down eating, but serves as a mindfulness reminder to enjoy what you are consuming. Slowing down your eating pace also allows your body to register what you are eating and produce sufficient gastric acid and digestive enzymes in response.
Food should be chewed to a pureed consistency before swallowing to minimize overeating and the feeling of food “getting stuck,” which can cause vomiting.
Digestion starts in the mouth with chewing and the enzymes in saliva breaking down food. When eating, be sure to chew every bite thoroughly.
Adequate chewing will also help the brain process how full the stomach is.
Overeating is one of the most common reasons for vomiting after metabolic and bariatric surgery.
Food preparation according to portion size is vital. Be sure to follow the guidance on portion sizes as directed by your dietitian after weight loss surgery. Food texture is also an important consideration. Liquids empty faster from the stomach than soft and solid foods. Therefore, do not consume liquids while eating a meal to avoid rapid gastric emptying.
Lying Down Too Soon After Eating
Acid reflux or heartburn after bariatric surgery can occur. Lying down too soon after a meal increases pressure, pushing acid up the esophagus and increasing the chance of nausea and vomiting.
Wait at least 60 minutes after eating before lying down.
Fluids After Bariatric Surgery
We know that staying hydrated is essential and that dehydration after bariatric surgery can sneak up on you. However, drinking too quickly or with a meal can increase pressure in the stomach leading to vomiting. Following metabolic and bariatric surgery, your stomach size is dramatically reduced, and you must accommodate the anatomical changes.
Most healthcare providers recommend waiting at least 30 minutes after a meal to consume fluids.
Advancing Stages Too Quickly
Adjusting to eating after gastric bypass and gastric sleeve surgery takes time and patience.
After surgery, the dietary stages recommended are designed to reintroduce food at a texture and capacity that the stomach can tolerate.
Consuming solid food too soon after weight loss surgery will cause difficulty in the digestive process resulting in nausea and vomiting.
Vitamins and Medication
For many people, taking vitamins or medication on an empty stomach results in nausea, regardless of whether or not they have had weight loss surgery.
With the changes to the stomach and digestive tract, the form of multivitamin taken can result in inadequate absorption and irritation of the stomach lining. It is always advised to follow the recommendations made by your bariatric surgeon or other qualified healthcare provider.
You may be recommended to take certain medications with meals or try a different form of supplement, such as chewable bariatric vitamins or liquid supplements.
Stomach ulcers after bariatric surgery can occur at the new connection between the stomach and small intestine.
Ulcers can cause nausea and vomiting. Smoking and taking certain medications may increase your risk of ulcers.
Another cause of vomiting is stricture after bariatric surgery, otherwise called an obstruction.
Scarring can occur on the stomach or intestine at the surgery site. This scarring between the stomach and intestine narrows the opening and can obstruct the flow of food. Stricture can occur at any point after surgery.
Food that is not sufficiently chewed may be too large to pass through the smaller stomach pouch after weight loss surgery resulting in vomiting.
Could It Be Dumping Syndrome?
Dumping syndrome, a condition that can develop after metabolic and bariatric surgery, occurs when food, particularly high sugar foods, moves rapidly from the stomach into the small intestine.
Although dumping syndrome can cause nausea and vomiting, this does not happen in isolation; other symptoms occur. Patients respond differently to dumping syndrome, but common symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea, rapid heart rate, and dizziness.
Dumping syndrome can be avoided by following the recommended dietary guidelines from your healthcare provider and bariatric surgeon.
This may include cutting out sugar-rich sodas, fruit drinks, high-fat foods, and junk food.
Risks of Vomiting
Metabolic and bariatric surgery patients are at a long-term risk for malnutrition. This is due to the restriction of food and nutrients that are absorbed.
Vomiting further limits nutrient absorption, and although metabolic and bariatric surgery patients are advised to take post-bariatric vitamins, if you are throwing up frequently, supplements may not be properly absorbed.
Obesity and associated health complications are rising at an unprecedented rate. Metabolic and bariatric surgery can significantly change your quality of life.
The potential complications after metabolic and bariatric surgery can occur anytime after surgery, and some can experience bariatric surgery complications years later.
Although vomiting can be a common occurrence after gastric bypass and gastric sleeve surgery, it is always advised to stay in contact with your healthcare provider to ensure adequate nutrition and hydration.
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.
**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.