Written by: Debbie McDougall
One of the most common complaints people have after weight loss surgery is constipation. ‘What is constipation?’, you may ask. Constipation is generally defined as a condition in which there is difficulty in emptying the bowels, usually associated with hardened feces. Having hard stools or bowel movements that occur less than once a week is considered constipation. Some people believe they are experiencing constipation if they do not have a bowel movement every day. After weight loss surgery, bowel movements may or may not be the same as before surgery which is usually a normal side effect.
In most cases, constipation is temporary without serious complications. That being said, understanding the causes, prevention and treatment will help in gaining knowledge to put one’s mind more at ease. Constipation can become more severe the longer it lasts. As the length of time between bowel movements increases, more water is absorbed back into the bloodstream, causing the stool to harden in the colon (large intestine) which usually comes with a bit of discomfort. High amounts of gas may also be associated with certain levels of constipation.
In many cases, constipation after weight loss surgery is caused by the following:
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Because of potential problems with hemorrhoids, hernias
If you find your constipation problem continues, you may use a Dulcolax suppository, Fleets enema or Milk of Magnesia. If the problem continues to present itself, do not hesitate to call your surgeon’s office. Special note: DO NOT TAKE LAXATIVES on a regular basis! Your bowels could become dependent on these medications and normal bowel movements may not resume.
Although most instances of constipation in the first three months after weight loss surgery is usually attributed to the surgery, it is important to recognize that some bowel function problems are not related to bariatric surgery and a relationship should not be automatically assumed. A recent change in bowel function that is NOT readily attributable to the bariatric operation or that is not easily corrected may require further diagnostic measures for a complete evaluation.