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3 Reasons Why Diarrhea Happens After Gastric Sleeve Surgery and How to Deal With It

3 Reasons Why Diarrhea Happens After Gastric Sleeve Surgery and How to Deal With It

Is it normal to have diarrhea after gastric sleeve? Unfortunately, yes. Many people experience diarrhea after gastric sleeve surgery. This is a common side effect and can last for several months, but it does go away with time. Luckily, there are some things you can do to help manage this unpleasant side effect. Here are 3 reasons why diarrhea happens after gastric sleeve surgery—and how to deal with it!

Why Diarrhea Occurs After Gastric Sleeve Surgery

1) The digestive tract is still adjusting to the changes that have happened in your body due to weight loss (gastrointestinal dysfunction).

The digestive tract needs to adjust to the fact that you have less food and therefore less production of stomach acid. This is why your doctor may prescribe an over-the-counter antacid or proton pump inhibitor medication after surgery—this helps control the amount of acid in your stomach. While diarrhea can be a result of too much stomach acid, it is also a result of not enough stomach acid. Many people who have had gastric sleeve surgery in Maryland feel that their bodies still think they are eating the way they used to, and therefore bowel movements after gastric sleeve can be disordered.

2) You may be eating more fiber than you’re used to (increased motility or transit time through the intestine).

Since you now have a smaller stomach, much less time is spent in this part of the digestive tract. This means that much more quickly than normal, food will begin its journey through what remains of your gastrointestinal (GI) tract—which includes both your stomach and your small intestine. Since the GI tract is meant to digest food over a prolonged period of time (think hours, not minutes), it has mechanisms in place that slow down what should be a fast passage through this area—one such mechanism is increased transit time. Increased transit time means that for whatever reason (most likely due to eating more fiber than your body is used to), food spends more time traveling through the small intestine. This means that there are higher concentrations of digestive juices in one area for an extended period—which often results in diarrhea.

3) You may not be drinking enough water as recommended by your doctor (dehydration).

Just as water flushes through your system quickly when it is in high concentrations, the opposite also applies. When there isn’t enough water to dilute digestive juices that are produced by the body, diarrhea can be a result of dehydration. Oftentimes people think they are drinking plenty of fluids, but their urine output tells another story.

What to Do About Diarrhea After Gastric Sleeve Surgery?

Fortunately, diarrhea is a common side effect of gastric sleeve surgery that will subside over time. If you are experiencing this issue after your surgery, there are things you can do to help prevent diarrhea after gastric sleeve surgery:
  • Increase water intake—drink at least 64 ounces (half a gallon) of water every day as part of your diet after gastric sleeve surgery.
  • Increase your fiber intake gradually—if you are eating more than 20 grams per day, try to space this out over the course of each meal/snack instead of all at once.
  • Request an increase in antacid or proton pump inhibitor medication from your doctor- many people have success with this.
  • Work with your doctor to find the right balance between what you are eating and how much fiber is in it. This can be a great solution for some people but unfortunately may not work perfectly for everyone—which means that diarrhea will likely continue to happen from time to time until you figure out your ideal post-gastric sleeve diet plan.
Diarrhea should not last more than a few days to a week at most. If you are experiencing diarrhea for more than this, please contact Maryland Bariatrics. For more information, read about the benefits of gastric sleeve surgery with Maryland Bariatrics.

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