What to Expect After Weight-Loss Surgery

Dr. Mustafa Ahmed

Many bariatric surgery patients are surprised by after-effects of their procedure they never expected.

What would you normally expect after weight-loss surgery? To lose weight, of course – and lots of it. But many bariatric surgery patients are surprised by after-effects of their procedure they never expected, according to Mustafa Ahmed, MD, of Southern Nevada Bariatrics.

With approximately one-third of Americans coping with obesity – defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher – weight-loss surgery has grown in prominence over recent years. About 180,000 people underwent some type of bariatric surgery in the United States in 2013, according to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.

But regardless of which type of bariatric procedure a patient undergoes – Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, gastric banding or gastric sleeve surgery – they can expect a wide range of potential symptoms and/or conditions to deal with in the aftermath, explains Dr. Ahmed, who completed a bariatric fellowship and is board-certified in surgery and surgical critical care.

“Patients need to educate themselves by asking their doctors what to anticipate in the days, weeks and months after surgery,” he says. “Weight loss should be at the top of that list, but it’s a list that also encompasses many other possibilities.”

Possible post-surgical symptoms and conditions

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to determining which after-effects of bariatric surgery patients will experience. But it’s a wide range, Dr. Ahmed says, and includes:

  • Hiccups: Typically triggered by eating too much, drinking carbonated beverages or excessive alcohol consumption, nearly every weight-loss surgery patient experiences hiccups. “They’re just a nuisance, but if you want to avoid hiccups, portion out small amounts of food and eat slowly, chewing each bite thoroughly,” he says. “Also, avoid carbonated drinks and varying temperatures in drinks you’re consuming at one time – hot tea and ice water, for example.”
  • Gas/flatulence: Everyone gets gas once in awhile, but this uncomfortable problem can occur more frequently in bariatric surgery patients due to eating or drinking rapidly,…

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