Constipation after Weight Loss Surgery
After undergoing an operation that makes changes to the way your body will digest food, it is expected that there will be some change to your digestion habits, and thereby your bowel movement habits. While gastric sleeve and Lap Band surgery do not require any permanent changes to your colon or digestive tract, both operations do limit the amount of food that will fit in the stomach, thereby greatly reducing how much you can eat at any one time, and helping you to feel satiated more often.
Reducing your caloric intake by cutting down how often you eat, and how much you eat during a standard meal, will cause changes to your bowel habits. As your body adjusts to your new eating habits it is not uncommon to experience some degree of constipation.
What is Constipation?
There are many misunderstandings about constipation. Medically, constipation refers to the absence of a bowel movement for one week or longer. The use of pain medications directly following your surgical procedure may increase your risk of constipation at first. Usually, issues with constipation subside within about 90 days of the bariatric procedure.
There are several factors that contribute to the onset of constipation following weight loss surgery, including:
Reduction in the amount of food consumed daily
Reduced water intake
Reduction in physical activity, especially during the initial days and weeks after surgery
Side effects of dietary supplements or other medications
While there are many supplements and anti-constipation medications available on the market, it is not recommended to use these products following weight loss surgery. Prior to using any sort of laxative or fiber supplement you must speak with your weight loss surgeon to make sure that it is okay for you to use. If left untreated, long-term constipation will increase your risk of developing hemorrhoids, hernias and even intestinal blockage, so being proactive to encourage healthy bowel movements is recommended.
Issues with constipation will likely diminish naturally with time, so the best thing you can do is be patient. In the meantime, there are some natural ways that you can alleviate constipation safely after surgery. For example, increasing your fluid intake can make a big difference in your bowel comfort. Also, it is important that you listen to your body and not put-off the need to go to the bathroom, as this may exacerbate the issue of constipation.