Passing gas after weight loss surgery is a real problem, and often, a smelly situation can be a painful one. When you’ve had bariatric surgery, your body will experience several hormonal changes, primarily how it processes the food you eat.
Patients often experience increased gas production and body odor as a side effect of gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, or even duodenal switch. The crucial thing to remember is that you’re not alone, and once you recognize the triggers that contribute to these problems, steps can be taken to help limit or avoid them altogether.
What causes gas after bariatric surgery
Your digestive system has been shocked. You’re starting a new lifestyle with a clean slate that’s going to cause a significant change in your diet. Whatever foods you were accustomed to eating will not be the same anymore. Your gut will not allow it, and it will be up to you to determine what foods you’ll be able to handle following bariatric surgery.
This will take some time as you will feel malnourished, constipated, and fatigued since you won’t be able to obtain many fats and proteins from certain foods. Since this is the case, your body will start to look for energy in other places, mainly fat, and this will also cause weight loss and gas build-up.
How long does gas pain last?
Gas after surgery typically doesn’t last too long as it starts to alleviate after 1-2 days. Moving your body around by walking will significantly aid in eliminating gas. This helps reduce gas much quicker since it moves throughout the body, looking for an escape.
Keep in mind that gas can return at any time, and usually, the food you eat will be the culprit behind it. Keeping a clean diet and knowing what foods your body can handle will be vital in being gas-free.
Gas relief recommendations from real patients
Here are some ways to relieve gas build-up after weight loss surgery.
- Drink plenty of water (40 to 64 ounces daily)
- Try to walk around or move more often
- Gas X strips help relieve gas pain and help reduce the amount of flatulence
- Use a recliner to sleep upright for the first few days. If not, a body pillow can also be used
- Heating pads/Hot bath
- Devrom (internal deodorant)
- Papaya enzyme or extract
How to avoid painful gas after surgery?
What we eat will always produce gas in our bodies, but what about what we can’t see? That’s right, air! Inhaling too much air can also play a role in increased gas. It’s an involuntary action many of us do by swallowing air while eating, drinking, or simply talking.
To prevent too much air from being swallowed, here are some things to avoid:
- Sugary/Carbonated drinks
- Eating or drinking too quickly
- Talking while eating
- Drinking through a straw
Foods to Avoid
Below are some foods to avoid retaining gas after weight loss surgery:
- Empty calorie foods
- Bread, Rice, Pasta
- High-fat foods
- Tough meats
- Sugar/caffeinated drinks
- Fibrous fruits/vegtables
Possible side effects
As odd as it sounds, shoulder pain is something common that many patients experience. The doctor will pump gas into the abdomen to raise the skin and operate during surgery. Sometimes gas can stay trapped against the diaphragm, which is located at the bottom of the ribcage. Phrenic nerves control the movement, but discomfort can shoot up the nerves affecting the upper arms and shoulders when irritated by gas.
Diarrhea is another possible discomfort patients can experience after weight loss surgery. This is mainly caused by the lack of liquid absorption in the intestines, resulting in loose stools. It’s also common for individuals to find less tolerance for dairy products. This usually leads to a change in diet and switching to non-dairy options like soy-based products. Limiting sugar intake and consuming adequate fiber are always recommended.
After surgery, your hunger cravings will cease to exist. This will ultimately lead to eating less fiber which can lead to constipation. One way to avoid this is by eating plenty of fibrous fruits and vegetables. Staying hydrated is another easy way to prevent constipation. After a few weeks of the initial surgery, you can look for relief with mild laxatives or fiber supplements. (i.e., Mylanta, Milk of magnesia, & Dulcolax suppositories)