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Bariatric Surgery

After your surgery: Symptoms to watch for

What symptoms do I need to watch for after surgery?

See your healthcare provider or visit the nearest emergency department if you:

  • have a fever of 39°C (102°F) or higher
  • have trouble drinking or eating
  • feel sick to your stomach (nausea) or throw up (vomit) for more than 24 to 48 hours
  • have loose stool (diarrhea) for more than 3 days
  • don’t poop (have a bowel movement) for more than 3 days
  • have chest pain or shortness of breath
  • have pain or swelling in the legs or arms
  • pass out (faint)
  • have pain, bloating or swelling of your stomach
  • have an incision that’s open, red, swollen, painful, oozes or has a bad smell
  • have blood in your stool or stool that’s black or looks like tar
  • have pain in your bum (rectum)

What is dumping syndrome?

Dumping syndrome is a group of symptoms that happen when food moves too fast from the stomach to the small intestine. It can prevent your body from properly absorbing nutrients you need. When you’ve had surgery on your stomach or intestine, you may develop dumping syndrome.

Some symptoms of dumping syndrome can develop as early as 30 minutes after eating or drinking. Symptoms may include:

  • feeling sick to your stomach (nausea) or throwing up (vomiting)
  • stomach pain or cramping
  • loose stool (diarrhea)
  • feeling full or bloated
  • a faster heart beat

Some symptoms develop 1 to 3 hours after eating and are called late symptoms. Late symptoms happen when there are changes to the amount of insulin (a hormone that controls blood sugar levels) and sugar in your blood. These symptoms include:

  • red or hot skin (flushing) or sweating
  • feeling like you need to lie down right away
  • feeling weak or dizzy
  • feeling anxious, nervous, or shaky
  • a drop in blood pressure

Many people manage dumping syndrome by changing the way they eat, such as by:

  • eating smaller meals throughout the day
  • limiting food and drinks higher in sugar
  • choosing foods with fibre
  • not drinking fluids with meals or snacks

Your dietitian will tell you which foods are best to eat after having bariatric surgery and which foods to limit to help prevent dumping syndrome. Talk to your healthcare team if you develop any symptoms of dumping syndrome.

How will I know if I’m not getting enough fluids after surgery?

If you’re not getting enough fluid, you may get dehydrated or constipated.

Signs and symptoms of being dehydrated include:

  • feeling thirsty
  • peeing (urinating) less often
  • dark pee (urine)
  • dry skin
  • feeling tired
  • feeling light-headed (dizzy)

Signs of being constipated include:

  • hard and dry stool
  • having a hard time passing stool or painful bowel movements
  • having fewer than 3 bowel movements a week
  • Talk to your healthcare provider if you aren’t able to eat or drink well or think you’re dehydrated or constipated.​

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