Bariatric Surgery and Constipation
Constipation can be defined as fewer than usual bowel movements per week. Generally, it is taken less than three times per week. The longer the bowel takes to empty, the more water gets absorbed, and the stools get hardened. Hence, constipation worsens. Usually, constipation may be caused in normal individuals, which is temporary. Regular bowel movements vary in every individual; therefore, before taking any step for preventing and treating constipation, one should be sure of his everyday bowel habits.
Constipation is a side effect of bariatric surgery as you may not have the same bowel movements as before. There will be reduced bowel movements, pain medicines also cause constipation, and a dietary change along with dehydration may facilitate the movement of food within the gut. This may cause extreme discomfort. There are ways to avoid constipation and improve nutritional habits after surgery. In addition, few home remedies may also help in preventing constipation.
Why does constipation occur after surgery?
The operation of bariatric surgery isn’t a simple procedure. A large portion of the gut is removed, and the body has to undergo specific changes in order to adapt itself. Constipation is one of the commonest issues experienced by many patients post-operatively. With a new change, an individual needs proper guidance to avoid possible side effects after surgery.
Some of the reasons constipation occurs after surgery include:
- A reduction in food and water intake
- Less fibre intake
- Use of pain medicines after surgery
- Iron supplements
- Calcium supplements
- Use of narcotics
- Lack of exercise
- Weak abdominal muscles
What to avoid?
Please don’t hold it in
Among others one of the most common causes for constipation is ignoring the urge to defecate. When you avoid the urge, your feces stay inside, and more water gets absorbed while being in the large intestine. With time, stool hardens and causes more difficulty in emptying. This may at times cause complications like hemorrhoids and fissures as a result of straining.
Avoid these foods
Consult your dietitian for a diet plan post-operatively. Avoid foods that bind the stools. These include those rich in starch and low in protein contents like bananas, potatoes and rice etc.
How to relieve constipation?
Staying well-hydrated is essential after surgery. Adequate water intake helps to soften the stool. This makes bowel movements easy. Dehydration promotes the hardening of the stool. Try relieving stress from your newly operated gut by drinking an adequate amount of water. About 96 ounces glasses or mililiters of daily water intake is recommended for bariatric surgery patients.
Physical activity is a necessity after bariatric surgery. In addition to other benefits, exercise helps in preventing and relieving constipation. It promotes the movement of the bowel. Try aiming for a habit of regular physical activity, including walking, jogging and yoga etc. Start by 10-15 minutes per day, increasing gradually to 30-45 minutes. You may also try squatting. This shortens the duration of your bathroom visits by allowing easy emptying of your bowels and prevents straining.
Use adequate fibre
A proper diet plan is advised after bariatric surgery by nutritionists. This includes a high fibre diet to prevent constipation. Try getting fibres from a natural daily diet. This includes beans, oats, and fruits with skin, vegetables and whole grains. Avoid the use of fibre supplements which may further worsen constipation.
Use laxatives if required
If your constipation isn’t relieved after following the above measures, you may go for laxatives. Make sure you use it under your doctor’s guidance. Do not overuse laxatives.
Some home remedies
Some home remedies that help in relieving constipation include the following:
Some healthy fats include olive oils, coconut oils, grape seed oils, avocado and nuts etc. This helps in lubricating the intestinal walls. You can have it with salads.
Citrus fruits like lemons act as a stimulant for the digestive tract. This helps remove the toxins and undigested materials that may otherwise accumulate in the intestine walls. Adding it in water provides benefits of hydration along with decreasing its intensity.
Ginger and mint tea
Both ginger and mint tea are essential home remedies for constipation.
Ginger has warming effects which helps move the food faster while releasing the heat. Peppermint has antispasmodic effects and relieves constipation.
Raisins are rich in fibres. A handful of raisins per day shortens the bowel time in half. In addition, it also provides healthy fats.
Figs and prunes
These are also rich in fibres. They have compounds that increase the urges to go to the bathroom. Hence preventing constipation.
Sesame and black seeds
Sesame seeds have essential oils that help in moisturizing the walls of the intestine. Black seeds remove toxins and help in easy bowel movements by being rich in fibre contents.
Bariatric surgery is the means of acquiring a new lifestyle for the candidates. Constipation is a common side effect after bariatric surgery. Reduced bowel movements cause discomfort, which may lead to stress in patients. Proper dietary counselling is vital to avoid constipation. Staying hydrated, adequate fibre intake and exercise are few essentials required after surgery. Few home remedies may also help in relieving constipation.
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