Navigating gastric sleeve problems: prevention and management

Sleeve gastrectomy is a safe weight loss procedure, but you need to remember that there are always potential negative outcomes after any kind of surgery. Gastric sleeve problems may be related to rapid weight loss or could be a part of your recovery process. You should discuss all the potential risks with your doctor before you decide to undergo any kind of surgical stomach procedure.

Keep in mind that the majority of the issues are temporary and most patients experience only mild symptoms. Understanding gastric sleeve problems after surgery can help you stay committed to the healing process and get the very best results from your weight loss procedure.

Note: Gastric sleeve problems shouldn’t be confused with complications or side effects. Each focuses on different matters; surgical mistakes, possible outcomes of the recovery process, or mistakes in post-op care.

Common problems after gastric sleeve

Your first weeks after gastric sleeve surgery may be difficult at times. The operated area will be sensitive, so you can experience pain and an overall lack of energy and motivation. This can make you feel a bit down at the very beginning of your recovery process. You may also suffer from nutritional deficiencies and dehydration, which can show itself in different ways. Here are some gastric sleeve problems that are common among patients:

How can I deal with dehydration?

Dehydration is one of the most common problems of sleeve gastrectomy. Since you don’t feel as much hunger and thirst, you may tend to drink not enough water. 

Signs of dehydration after gastric sleeve surgery include dry mouth and swollen tongue. You may be weak, dizzy, and feel extremely tired. What’s more, you can also experience excessive sweating after gastric sleeve, as well as trouble breathing. In some extreme cases following long-term dehydration, you may even faint.

If you want to prevent dehydration after your sleeve gastrectomy, try to drink water regularly between your meals. Fluids help digest food, absorb nutrients, and flush waste from the body. It’s best to drink about 2 liters of water a day.

Remember that drinking too much too quickly can lead to nausea and vomiting. Take small and frequent sips throughout the day. Make sure you are getting enough fluids after your weight loss surgery and plan it ahead. To keep yourself motivated, you can keep a water bottle with you and set a time when you are going to drink.

What does UTI mean after gastric sleeve?

After your gastric sleeve surgery, there is a high risk of developing a urinary tract infection (UTI), especially within a month of the procedure. In the case of some patients, there might be a urinary catheter used to control the urine buildup. It’s generally left for the first night after gastric sleeve surgery. In some cases, the catheter may be the cause of a potential infection in the bladder. Dehydration is one of the other reasons for developing a urinary tract infection, as well as a weakened immune system, being a result of nutrition deficiencies.

Symptoms of UTI can include pain or a burning sensation when urinating, and a need to do it often and urgently, even with an empty bladder. Cloudy, dark urine after gastric sleeve with a strong smell is one of the symptoms too. Keep in mind that your urine may also contain blood. If it does, it means the UTI got worse and you need to call your physician immediately. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics if your UTI after the gastric sleeve is long-term or reoccurring.

Why does it hurt when I swallow?

You will most probably experience some sort of discomfort after swallowing, following the first days after the procedure. In some cases, you may also suffer from dysphagia after your sleeve gastrectomy treatment. Dysphagia is difficulty in swallowing and appears to be a common symptom after gastric surgery.

It happens because your stomach might become too narrow due to scar tissue. This may cause difficulty eating or even drinking after the surgery. If you experience abdominal pain when eating after the gastric sleeve, it may be a sign you suffer from dysphagia.

If the reason for your problems with swallowing is only inflammation in the throat or esophagus, your surgeon can prescribe anti-inflammatory medicine. In other cases stretching by endoscopy could be necessary. In extreme situations, patients may need corrective surgery, but it rarely happens.

Remember that you should take small bites and chew your meals well. Keep in mind that at the very beginning, you will be on a liquid diet only, which should help. After two weeks, when you start eating solids, it’s best to stay away from foods that are difficult to swallow.

Keep a good posture while eating. You should sit as far back as possible. Sitting up straight allows your food to digest uninterrupted after the meal. This way it helps to prevent symptoms of heartburn, indigestion, or cramps.

Why do I keep having hiccups?

Hiccups after gastric sleeve are common. They are involuntary diaphragm muscle spasms. What can cause them? Eating too quickly or too much. To solve the problem of hiccups, first of all, slow down while eating. Remember that when you eat slowly, you will fill fuller and realize that you are full enough before you decide to eat more.

Take smaller bites, chew your meals slowly, and enjoy every bit of them. Remember to have small portions, avoid overeating, and follow your dietary instructions. Hiccups may be a warning that you are already full! Also, note what kind of food generally triggers them.

Fizzy drinks bring pressure and air into your stomach and cause hiccups. For this reason, it’s best to avoid them as long as you can after your sleeve gastrectomy procedure.

Drinking through a straw after gastric sleeve is definitely not recommended, since it can inflate air in your digestive system. You should also avoid chewing gum for the same reason.

Is it normal to have erectile dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction after gastric sleeve is NOT one of the negative results of this operation. On the contrary, several studies have shown that sleeve gastrectomy in fact improves testosterone hormone levels in men. Obesity raises the risk of developing many different kinds of illnesses, including problems with testosterone levels and therefore, erection. Sleeve gastrectomy is most probably going to improve it.

Stress that is related to the surgery may, however, cause temporary erectile dysfunction. Talk to your doctor if you are facing a problem of erectile dysfunction due to surgery-related stress. Your doctor might suggest you consult a professional for stress relief techniques.

What does female discharge mean after a sleeve?

You must know that yeast infection after gastric sleeve is not a result of your surgery. Yeast infections are a common side effect of antibiotics. The antibiotics you get after your sleeve surgery will kill a range of bacteria, also the healthy ones, including bacteria in the vagina. This may be the reason for yeast overgrowth and therefore infection development.

If you have symptoms of a yeast infection, contact your gynecologist and they will prescribe the necessary medications. You can help prevent yeast infections by wearing cotton underwear. You may also take probiotics in addition to your diet after gastric sleeve surgery, of course after consulting with your doctor.

Is it common to have gallstones after having gastric sleeve surgery?

No, it’s not. Gallstones after gastric sleeve might be a problem you can face after your weight loss surgery but occur in a maximum of 20% of the patients. When it comes to the development of gallstones, obesity plays an important role as one of the major factors. Moreover, fast weight loss after gastric surgery can increase this risk.

Gallstones are often related to the risk of developing biliary issues. It is suggested to use ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) after the operation in order to prevent gallstone disease. Many studies have shown that UDCA can effectively prevent gallstones from developing. 

Symptoms of gallstone disease after gastric sleeve surgery include strong pain in the upper part of your stomach, nausea, vomiting, and right shoulder pain. In case of that kind of situation, you may be suggested to undergo a surgical procedure of laparoscopic cholecystectomy to solve your gastric sleeve problems related to gallstones.

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