After Bariatric Surgery: Issues & Symptoms to Contact a Bariatric Surgeon AboutApril 20, 2022
There are many bariatric surgery issues and symptoms that patients can experience after surgery. Find out the short-term and long-term issues that can occur that patients need to know about and contact your bariatric surgeon.
Bariatric surgery issues and symptoms short-term issues
Shortness of Breath
This is a symptom of a wide range of problems including pulmonary embolism, drug reaction, unrelated heart attack, or asthma attack, among others. Seeking immediate help is necessary.
This can be related to a hiatal hernia repair or bariatric surgery. Your surgeon may order tests like CT of the chest to rule out serious pathology. Some patients have mild lower chest pain and it improves with time. This can be postoperative pain which will improve pain medications prescribed for surgery.
It is common to have upper abdomen pain after surgery at the site of incisions, and it improves with walking and pain medications. Any pain not improving with pain medications should be reported to your surgeon. Sometimes a CT scan is necessary to rule out complications from surgery as deemed necessary by your surgeon.
Fever More than 102 Degrees Fahrenheit
There are several reasons to have a fever after bariatric surgery including decreased expansion of the lungs (which can be helped by walking and using your inspiratory spirometer), pneumonia, or a serious complication like a leak or missed bowel injury. Any fever more than 102 degrees Fahrenheit should be reported to your surgeon. Your surgeon may ask you to come for a checkup or report to an ER to rule out a serious complication of surgery.
Signs of Stroke
One-sided weakness or transient blindness can be a sign of a stroke and requires ER visit.
Dizziness, Blackout, Syncope, or Fall
This can be a sign of dehydration. Sometimes it is hard to keep up with drinking after surgery as there can be transient pain in swallowing. This is very common after bariatric surgery as sometimes a patient needs IV fluids especially if there is superadded nausea with pain.
This can also be a manifestation of postoperative bleeding and may need you to report to the ER immediately.
Vision changes: Can be related to many things including blood sugar level changes, dehydration, and electrolyte imbalance.
Hoarseness of Voice
This can be related to the tube used in your trachea for breathing during surgery.
Soreness in Calf Muscles
This can be a manifestation of dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, or a clot in your leg veins (DVT). Continue electrolyte repletion and contact your surgeon if it doesn’t improve.
Bleeding Per Rectum
Contact your surgeon immediately if you’re having fresh blood in your stool or black tarry stool.
Blood In Vomiting
A small amount of blood in vomiting is not uncommon after bariatric surgery and may not be a sign of any serious complication. However, it should be reported to the surgeon to rule out a serious complication.
Bariatric surgery issues and symptoms long-term issues
Plateau of weight loss before you reach your goal body weight: This could be related to a lack of physical activity. A very subtle imbalance of food intake and energy expenditure can cause weight gain.
Increased portion size: This can be treated with increasing protein intake, counseling, and ‘pouch reset’ when we place our patients on a sugar-free liquid diet for a short period of time.
Generalized Weakness or fatigue: This might be related to a vitamin deficiency, deficient protein intake, or decreased total calories. Your dietician can help. Your surgeon will do routine blood tests periodically to do surveillance on vitamin and nutrients deficiency.
Acid reflux or upper belly pain: This could be related to bariatric surgery or hiatal hernia which may need medications or a day operation to repair the hernia.
Upper abdomen pain or right-sided pain with or without radiation to the back: Your surgeon will likely order an abdomen ultrasound to evaluate your gall bladder. Gall bladder stones, sludge, or dysfunction of the gall bladder may require a day operation to remove the gall bladder.
Weight regain: Contact your physician as there are further options like ‘pouch reset’ and management with diet and exercise plans.
ABOUT THE AUTHORArsalla Islam, MD, FACS, FASMBS is a board-certified surgeon practicing at My Bariatric Solutions in Decatur, Texas. Dr. Islam is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons (FACS) and a fellow of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (FASMBS). She is a member of the Parkland Surgical Society and the Society of Vascular Surgery (SVS). She is known as one of the top vascular, endovascular, and bariatric surgeons in the Dallas, Fort Worth region and beyond.