Bariatric surgery has become a popular option for extreme weight loss, yet there are still some side effects of weight loss surgery that no one really talks about. After any form of extreme weight loss, whether through bariatric surgery or diet and exercise, your body will begin to react in various ways.
Weird Side Effects of Weight Loss Surgery
You may begin to notice bodily changes immediately after surgery or several weeks post-operatively. Most of the symptoms after bariatric surgery are temporary and should resolve once your body adjusts to your new lifestyle. Yet there are a few side effects of weight loss surgery to keep in mind.
1. You may experience sneezing or a running nose 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.
When the vagus nerve has too much pressure on it, weird physical reactions may occur. 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. You may experience 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, in part due to reduced food intake. However, a diet higher in protein, especially protein supplements, can also affect regular bowel movements after surgery. Similarly, dehydration can also cause constipation.
Fortunately, constipation is only 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 increase your exercise frequency. If your constipation is not passing, you can also try stool softeners, milk of magnesia, or other laxatives.
3. You will be cold(er).
Being cold is another one of the side effects of weight loss 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.
When you lose a significant amount of weight, you will feel more cold-blooded due to the loss of 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 weight loss 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 think about losing an extreme amount of weight, you likely don’t think about how your shoe or ring size will change. But it is one of the common side effects of weight loss surgery—your feet and fingers may shrink. After bariatric surgery, you will lose weight in unexpected places, which is a great joy to many patients. We loving see our patients share photos of them being able to finally wear their wedding rings again after losing the weight.
5. Your social life will change.
Unfortunately, in some cases, 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 goals of eating smaller, healthier meals or spending more 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 encourage your health journey post bariatric surgery.
Despite these side effects of weight loss surgery, bariatric surgery 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 article was originally published on the Bariatric Centers of America blog.