Understanding Stomach Spasms After Gastric Sleeve Surgery

stomach spasms after gastric sleeve surgery

Introduction to Gastric Sleeve Surgery and Post-Operative Symptoms

Muscle spasms after gastric sleeve surgery are a normal part of recovery as the stomach is swelling and healing.

Gastric sleeve surgery, also called sleeve gastrectomy, is a weight loss surgery. It works by removing a large portion of the stomach so it’s smaller and takes less food to feel full. The intestines and other parts of the digestive system are not removed.

It’s considered a safe and effective bariatric surgery. Patients typically lose significant weight within 12-18 months after the procedure. Other benefits include improved health conditions like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

But as with any major surgery, there is a recovery period. It takes time for your body to adjust to the changes in your digestive system.

Normal side effects in the first days and weeks include:

  • Pain or soreness around the incision sites
  • Fatigue and low energy as your body heals
  • Constipation from pain medications 
  • Diarrhea as you transition to softer foods
  • Nausea or vomiting if you eat too much or too quickly
  • Food intolerance until your system adjusts
  • Stomach spasms or cramping as your stomach healing
  • So if you experience abdominal discomfort after your gastric sleeve surgery, don’t panic. It’s very common and usually goes away within a few week as swelling decreases and your stomach adapts. But severe or ongoing pain should be checked by your doctor.

    Common Causes of Stomach Spasms Post-Surgery

    There are a few reasons why stomach spasms and cramping may happen after a gastric sleeve procedure:

    Normal post-surgical healing: After any surgery, there is inflammation and swelling as your body starts healing and repairing tissue. This natural process can cause some cramping or spasms. It should gradually improve within 5-7 days.

    Dietary changes: Your new smaller stomach needs time to get used to digesting food and liquids. Eating too much or too fast may trigger spasms. Sticking to a proper post-op diet helps prevent this.

    GI motility changes: Your digestive process is altered after bariatric surgery, including how food moves through your system. This can temporarily disrupt normal muscle contractions and cause spasms.

    Psychological factors: Stress and anxiety may translate into physical symptoms like abdominal cramping. Relaxation techniques help manage this response.

    In most cases, stomach spasms aren’t anything to be alarmed about. They’re simply part of the normal recovery process as your body adapts. Staying hydrated, following your doctor’s dietary advice, and giving yourself plenty of rest will help minimize discomfort. But let your surgical team know if symptoms persist.

    Examining the Link Between Stomach Spasms and Diet Post-Gastric Sleeve

    What you eat and drink after surgery greatly impacts stomach spasms. It’s crucial to follow your doctor’s post-op diet closely, especially in the first 1-2 months. Foods that are too heavy, acidic, sugary, or gas-producing can overwhelm your smaller stomach pouch and cause cramping. Staying hydrated is also key to preventing muscle contractions.

    Drink at least 64 ounces of water daily and up your electrolyte intake. Limit caffeine, carbonation, alcohol and sugary beverages, which have the opposite effect. It’s also best to stick to a bland diet of protein-rich, low-fat, low-fiber foods. Eat 5-6 small meals spaced throughout the day and chew thoroughly.

    As your stomach adjusts, you can gradually diversify your nutrition, but avoiding dietary triggers will help minimize discomfort after your gastric sleeve procedure. Be patient with your body’s changes and follow your medical team’s guidance.

    Physical and Medical Causes of Stomach Spasms After Gastric Sleeve

    In some cases, stomach spasms or cramps may result from an underlying physical condition or medical issue.

    Some possibilities include:

  • Muscle strain: Overuse and repetitive motion can cause abdominal muscle strains that spasm painfully. Rest helps injured tissue heal.
  • IBS or bowel disorders: Pre-existing irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or IBD may flare up after surgery and cause cramping.
  • Inflammatory conditions: Digestive issues like gastritis, ulcers or Crohn’s disease provoke stomach cramping. Treatment targets the underlying condition.
  • Kidney stones: Passing a stone through the urinary tract causes intense cramping spasms.
  • Let your doctor know if you have persistent or worsening stomach pain that medication doesn’t relieve. They can examine your full medical history and determine if an underlying condition needs treatment.

    Signs of Malnutrition After Gastric Sleeve That Could Lead to Stomach Spasms

    Malnutrition is a potential long-term complication after bariatric surgery if nutrition isn’t properly maintained. Deficiencies can contribute to abdominal cramping and spasms. Be alert for red flags like unusual cravings, fatigue, nausea, diarrhea or constipation, vision changes, and mood issues.

    To help prevent malnutrition, work closely with your medical team. Among other things, they will help you take any prescribed supplements, aim for the optimal amount of protein daily, focus on nutrient-dense foods, stay hydrated, and exercise as tolerated. 

    Routine monitoring and blood work allows your team to catch any nutritional issues early. Addressing deficiencies promptly minimizes the chances of stomach discomfort and other symptoms.

    Managing Abdominal Discomfort After Bariatric Procedures

    Coping with stomach pain and muscle spasms can be challenging after weight loss surgery. But there are many ways to minimize discomfort:

  • Over-the-counter medication
  • Heating pad
  • Hot showers or baths
  • Stretching
  • Walk and move
  • Laxatives
  • Antacids
  • Anti-cramping medication
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Avoid triggers
  • Stay hydrated
  • If at-home remedies don’t provide enough relief, call your doctor. Severe pain may need evaluation to rule out complications. Also seek medical help if abdominal symptoms last more than 5-7 days or seem to worsen.

    Preventative Measures and Lifestyle Adjustments

    You can be proactive in your recovery and take steps to avoid stomach spasms after surgery. An important preventative measure is carefully following your doctor’s post-op dietary instructions, especially in the first month. Eat slowly, chew thoroughly, and don’t overwhelm your stomach. Also be diligent about attending all follow-up monitoring appointments as directed by your team.

    Bring up any concerning symptoms you are experiencing so they can be addressed. Taking prescribed supplements consistently will help prevent nutritional deficits that can contribute to cramping. Open communication with your bariatric medical team provides the guidance you need. Joining a support group connects you with others going through similar experiences.

    Finally, make lifestyle adjustments like avoiding smoking, slowly increasing activity under your doctor’s supervision, managing stress through yoga or massage, and getting adequate rest.

    FAQs: Addressing Common Concerns About Stomach Spasms After Surgery

    1. What causes stomach spasms after gastric sleeve surgery?

    The most likely causes of stomach spasms after a sleeve gastrectomy are normal postoperative swelling and healing, changes in digestive motility, dietary triggers, and psychological factors like stress. Spasms are very common and usually subside within a few weeks.

    1. How can you alleviate stomach spasms after eating post-surgery?

    To help prevent or treat diet-related spasms, stick to a liquid diet for the first 1-2 weeks, then gradually add in soft foods. Take small bites, chew thoroughly, and avoid overeating. Also stay hydrated, limit caffeine and carbonation, and avoid alcohol, sugar, and fatty foods.

    1. What are the signs of malnutrition after gastric sleeve that could lead to stomach spasms?

    Look for unusual cravings, nausea/vomiting, fatigue, diarrhea or constipation, hair and skin changes, numbness or tingling, vision issues, and mood changes. Work closely with your bariatric team to prevent nutritional deficiencies through diet, supplementation, and routine monitoring.

    Living Well After Gastric Sleeve Surgery

    Adjusting to life after bariatric surgery comes with some ups and downs. But with the right information and support, you can manage temporary issues like stomach muscle spasms. Stay in close contact with your medical team, follow their dietary advice, and listen to your body during recovery.

    Over time, your digestive system will adapt to changes from the gastric sleeve procedure. As you lose weight and improve your health, the benefits will far outweigh short-term discomforts. Don’t hesitate to ask for help and utilize available resources. With commitment and self-care, you’ve got this!

    Additional Resources and Support for Bariatric Surgery Patients

    For more information, guidance, and community support, check out these helpful resources:

    You don’t have to navigate recovery alone. Tap into the wealth of shared knowledge and experience from others who have been where you are. Stay strong and know that the difficulties are temporary. The future you is worth it!

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