One of the most popular weight loss surgery options, the gastric sleeve procedure, reduces the size of the stomach to just 8 to 10 ounces. This helps patients feel fuller faster and eat less in one sitting, resulting in impressive weight loss. However, when post-surgery dietary guidelines aren’t followed, patients experience a host of symptoms that could lead to complications down the line. Here, Valeriu E. Andrei, M.D., Bariatric Associates, P.A. explores some of the consequences of overeating after gastric sleeve surgery.
After receiving a gastric sleeve procedure, patients will be left with a smaller stomach pouch that can hold about a half cup of food. When patients consistently overeat after their surgery, they’re forcing more food into their digestive system than their stomachs can handle, causing severe discomfort. This occurs in many forms, including abdominal pain and cramps, but can also involve frequent indigestion and heartburn.
Overeating may also cause a very uncomfortable sensation known as plugging. This refers to a feeling patients get when food becomes trapped in their small stomach pouch, as well as the upper digestive tract. When there is too much food in the stomach, it can cause the digestive system to back up and results in undigested food that cannot move through the body as it should.
Vomiting and Diarrhea
Other common side effects of overeating after gastric sleeve surgery include vomiting, diarrhea, or a combination of both. When more food enters the stomach than it can hold, it’s only natural for the body to void its contents immediately, either through vomiting or diarrhea. Overeating also affects the body’s process for digestion, which explains why patients who overeat experience these problems.
When coupled with severe discomfort, vomiting and diarrhea can lead to a condition known as dumping syndrome. Also known as rapid gastric emptying, this condition is triggered by foods – especially those with a high sugar content – that move too quickly from the stomach to the bowels. In other words, the stomach reacts to overeating by emptying into the duodenum of the small intestine more quickly than normal.
Stretching of the Stomach
While these symptoms may sound unpleasant, the stomach stretching to a larger size is the most serious consequence of overeating after gastric sleeve surgery. As the point of this procedure is to reduce the stomach’s size, repeatedly eating large meals will ultimately undo the progress surgery allowed you to make. Before you know it, you’ll be regaining the weight you lost due to your stomach stretching and accommodating more food.
Beyond regaining weight, your stomach stretching could cause additional complications. For instance, the stitches or staples used by your surgeon may become displaced, leading to internal bleeding and other serious, life-threatening issues. Some patients may even require revision surgery to correct stretching and get them back on track.
Get the Support You Need to Succeed
It’s easy to slip into old habits of overeating after gastric sleeve surgery, and many assume they’ve healed enough and lost enough weight to return to these behaviors with little consequence. Yet the road to achieving your goal weight is long and winding, and Dr. Andrei and his team at Bariatric Associates, P.A. understand what it takes to get you there. That’s why every patient receives constant support and essential dietary guidelines that promote long-lasting success without complications or weight gain. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today.