We talk a lot about life after bariatric surgery on our blog, yet there are still some side effects of bariatric surgery that we haven't really covered. After any form of extreme weight loss, whether through bariatric surgery or diet and exercise, your body will begin to react in different ways.
Weird Side Effects of Bariatric Surgery
You may begin to notice bodily changes immediately after surgery or several weeks post-op. Most of the side effects after bariatric surgery are temporary and should resolve once your body adjusts to your new lifestyle. Yet there are a few side effects of bariatric surgery to be aware of.
1. Sneezing or running noses after eating
The vagus nerve is a complex cranial nerve that runs from the brain to the stomach. It controls sensory, motor, and parasympathetic functions that affect upper body reactions. These reactions include swallowing, digestion, respiration, sneezing, hiccuping, and runny noses.
Weird physical reactions may occur when the vagus nerve has too much pressure on it. As we know, bariatric surgery alters the capacity of your stomach, and therefore after surgery, it is easier to feel stuffed, especially if you are eating too fast. This is what causes the sneezing or running nose after eating a meal.
If you experience these symptoms, it is recommended that you slow down and eat with more intention behind how much and how fast you are eating.
2. Frequent constipation
Constipation as a side effect of weight loss surgery is quite common. Constipation is defined as having fewer than three bowel movements in a week, feeling the need to strain during bowel movements, or having hard stools.
After bariatric surgery, the frequency of bowel movements will change, partially due to reduced food intake. But, a diet higher in protein, especially protein supplements, can also affect regular bowel movements after surgery. Similarly, if you are dehydrated, you may experience constipation.
Fortunately, constipation is only really common in the first few months after bariatric surgery. The best way to avoid experiencing constipation after weight loss surgery is to drink enough fluids to prevent dehydration, increase fiber intake, and exercise more. You can also try stool softeners, milk of magnesia, or other laxatives if necessary.
3. You will be cold(er).
Being cold is another one of the side effects of bariatric surgery. Before bariatric surgery, you likely experienced your fair share of hot flashes. So the thought of being cold all the time may sound appealing. You will feel more cold-blooded due to losing excess body weight. When the fat tissue under the skin gets thinner, the way your body insulates and responds to colder temperatures changes.
Similarly, as you lose weight and no longer carry around excess body weight, your heart rate and metabolism will slow, impacting your body temperature. Another side effect of bariatric surgery is vitamin deficiencies. An iron deficiency is very common post-operatively, so be sure to check on your iron levels to ensure they are not a reason for feeling constantly cold after bariatric surgery.
4. Your hands and feet shrink, too.
When you envision what your new body will look like after bariatric surgery, you likely don’t think about how your shoe or ring size will change. But it is one of the common side effects of bariatric surgery—your feet and fingers may shrink. One of our favorite non-scale victories for our patients is seeing them share photos wearing their wedding rings after several years of not fitting. After bariatric surgery, you will lose weight in unexpected places, which is a great joy to many patients.
5. Your social life will change.
Unfortunately, some patients will experience unsupportive coworkers, peers, and even family members or friends after weight loss surgery. Whether through harsh words or actions, it is not uncommon for patients to notice a shift in their friend groups and social life.
Long-term success after bariatric surgery centers on a shift in your eating and exercise habits. Your old friend group may not support your want to eat smaller, healthier meals or spend time at the gym. Similarly, you will begin to notice how often social events are centered around eating.
As hard as it may be to hear, you might need to distance yourself from these old friends and find a group of supportive individuals who support your health journey.
Despite these side effects of bariatric surgery, the procedures are very effective in helping patients lose a significant amount of weight and regain their health. If you are interested in starting your weight loss journey with a bariatric surgeon in our network, you can schedule an appointment on our website!
This blog was originally published on the Bariatric Centers of America blog.