5 Side Effects to Expect From Weight Loss Surgery

You’ve probably painted a beautiful picture of what your life will be like after bariatric surgery. A life with easier mobility, filled with smiles like the people in all the pamphlets you’ve collected throughout your doctor visits. While the journey is loaded with rewards it also has its pitfalls with both short-term and long-term effects. Below are 5 side effects that can be expected after weight loss surgery, some causing physical tolls and others a psychological toll.

Most importantly all of these side effects can be treated.


Dry Mouth

This feeling may be one of the most uncomfortable and may also cause increased levels of insecurity. This is caused by dehydration. Experts recommend 48 ounces of calorie and caffeine-free fluids, as a daily minimum to prevent dehydration. Sounds easy enough, right? Not really. With all the different rules about when it is okay to consume liquids (never with food or 30-minutes before or after meals) and the new size of your stomach, it can be difficult to comfortably drink the suggested amount of fluids. Make it a habit to sip throughout the day, carry aluminum water bottles and make an effort to refill often.

Acid Reflux

While gastric bypass has demonstrated a reduction in GERD and acid reflux symptoms in its patients, sleeve gastrectomy patients saw virtually no improvement. Many who never experienced symptoms before, later developed the condition. The backwash of stomach acid and other digestive fluids cause acid reflux, which feels like burning in your throat (for the lucky ones who have never experienced this). Acid reflux can kick in as early as 1-month post-op and can gradually get better. A way to remedy this is to identify trigger foods, by logging the food consumed and then eliminating those foods, and carry antacids to help alleviate the burning. Be sure to visit your doctor if you are experiencing more then 2 episodes of acid reflux a week.

Feeling Cold

Body temperature is the result of your body generating and radiating heat. The normal body temperature is 98.6°F. During the period of rapid weight loss, it's normal to feel cold for two reasons the loss of fat and less energy is being generated. Fat is a great insulator, it’s the reason why animals native to cold temperatures, like polar bears thrive without needing to hibernation. Their fat stores' heat. In the rapid weight loss phase, you lose your insulation. The second reason involves the amount of energy your body produces to maintain your smaller body. The energy needed will significantly reduce as your weight reduces causing less work for your metabolic cell processes.


Hair Loss

Hair loss typically begins anywhere from 3 - 6 months after surgery and tends to resolve itself after 1 year. It can be really difficult to see this happen. In my experience, it began with shedding and hair breakage. Then during month 5, my hair began to lose its strength and even worst became super thin. The main cause of hair loss is stress put on the body from surgery and rapid weight loss. Stress causes our hair follicles to shift from its growing phase to a resting or dormant phase, therefore the hair will fall out. Luckily, this can be corrected by taking the recommended daily dosage of protein and regularly taking your vitamins. For added support, try different oil treatments weekly to stimulate growth. My favorites are tea tree and castor oil.


Addiction Transfer

Many of those who have had bariatric surgery as a thought have a food addiction. Whether it's emotional or binge eating, if these emotional triggers are not remedied studies have shown that patients are likely to consume greater amounts of alcohol and drugs to substitute for overeating. Addiction transfer is difficult to track but may begin as a side effect of head hunger. Head hunger is what happens when you are physically full yet your mind is still experiencing hunger. Alcohol is easily consumed and digested, leading to the lowering of inhibitions. Weight loss surgery causes absorption to change as well, the alcohol dehydrogenase in the stomach where the enzymes have also reduce leading to the rapid absorption of alcohol and longer response to its effects.

If you have felt as though addiction transfer did occur, you should seek a behavioral health professional who will help you develop alternative coping mechanisms, as well as provide aid in the grievance of food. For those of you on the other side of weight loss surgery, comment below your side effects and how you remedy them.

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