Constipation is pretty common after gastric bypass surgery. Gastric bypass patients are advised to eat a diet high in protein and they often have trouble getting enough fiber, especially in the early days after surgery when they can only eat very small amounts of food. Constipation is uncomfortable, of course, but it can also lead to some pretty serious problems, including hemorrhoids, hernias, impacted bowel, and rectal prolapse.
Here are some steps you can take to help prevent constipation after gastric bypass surgery:
- Drink at least 64 ounces of fluid per day. According to the Mayo Clinic, most people actually need more liquid than that, but 64 ounces is the minimum amount you should drink.
- Get as much fiber as you can. Stick to your surgeon’s post-op meal plan and make sure you get enough protein, but add foods high in fiber when you can, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Beans are also high in fiber and are a good choice since they also contain plenty of protein.
- Consider using a fiber supplement, like Benefiber. Talk to your surgeon about the advantages and disadvantages of fiber supplements. If you do use a fiber supplement, make sure you drink plenty of water; otherwise, a fiber supplement can actually make constipation worse.
- Consider using a stool softener, like Colace. Talk to your surgeon about the advantages and disadvantages of stool softeners.
- Get some exercise. You don’t need a vigorous workout to help prevent constipation. You just need to move your body. Even gentle walking will help. Get some exercise each day to help keep your bowels moving.
- Some medications, including many pain medications and antidepressants, can cause constipation. Talk to your prescribing physician about any medications you are taking. Ask if there is an alternative drug you could use that is less likely to cause constipation or if you should take something with it to help prevent constipation. If you think one of your medications is causing constipation, don’t stop taking it without talking to your doctor first.