What Is Dumping Syndrome & How To Avoid It After Weight Loss Surgery

A woman standing on weighing scales with a donut and an apple in her hands.

Have you heard of the term “dumping syndrome?”

Now, take note that it has nothing to do with being dumped repeatedly by a significant other.

Instead, it’s a collection of uncomfortable symptoms experienced by 1 out of 10 people after bariatric surgery procedures like gastric bypass and esophageal surgery.

In this article, we’ll be discussing more about what dumping syndrome is, its types, symptoms, and other effects, and most importantly, some lifestyle changes that may help you avoid it.

Let’s get to it!

What Is Dumping Syndrome?

As mentioned above, dumping syndrome is a bunch of uncomfortable symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, and simply feeling tired after a meal. These symptoms, in turn, are caused by what is called rapid gastric emptying.

Rapid gastric emptying is an occurrence where the food you eat moves too quickly from your stomach to your duodenum, the first part of the small intestine.

You see, after bariatric surgery, not only will you have a smaller stomach, but you will also have a more direct link to the duodenum. This means your food skips most of the stomach, helping with weight loss, but it also means a more unregulated trip to the bowels.

Eating heavy meals and sugar-rich food can all contribute to dumping syndrome and can make its occurrence more likely. The same goes if you eat dairy products and certain fried foods.

What Are The Types Of Dumping Syndrome?

There are two types:

Early Dumping Syndrome
This is when a huge amount of your food coming from your stomach moves faster than usual into your small intestine. Immediately after this movement, stomach fluid goes into the same area. This fluid is a mix of stomach acid and slightly digested food and beverages.
This generally occurs around 30 minutes after eating
Late Dumping Syndrome
This type can happen between 1 to 3 hours after you’re done eating. It occurs when you consume a large amount of sugar which then travels quickly to your small intestine. The quick travel causes your blood sugar level to rise faster than normal.
When that happens, your pancreas releases insulin, making your blood sugar level fall also too quickly. And when that happens, the result is hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. You will then feel weak.

How Do You Know You Are Experiencing Dumping Syndrome?

Both types of dumping syndromes tend to exhibit similar symptoms which may include:

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Flushing
  • Lightheadedness
  • Nausea
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness

You may experience one, some, or even all of these symptoms.

How Else Can Dumping Syndrome Affect Me?

Apart from the symptoms above, it’s possible to experience rapid weight loss and malnutrition. It’s best to tell your doctor immediately if you do experience this syndrome. Medication, and/or meal plans (in partnership with a dietitian) or even another round of surgery may be necessary to address this condition.

Will Dumping Syndrome Really Happen After Weight Loss Surgery?

Dumping syndrome is a possible after effect of bariatric surgery. It does not, however, affect all patients who undergo the treatment as only 1 in every 10 patients get dumping syndrome after surgery.

How Do I Avoid Experiencing Dumping Syndrome?

To minimize or avoid the occurrence of dumping syndrome, keep in mind that the weight loss benefit of bariatric surgery has to be supported by lifestyle changes. These are the things you can do to avoid experiencing this syndrome:

Be Mindful Of When You Should Eat.
With a smaller stomach and a shortened path to the intestines, you may want to consider shifting from three heavy meals to around six to eight light meals a day instead. Smaller and more frequent meals will allow you to quickly replenish the fuel you’re burning without overloading your stomach.
Do also consider taking in liquids 30 to 60 minutes before meal time instead of during meals. Liquids quicken the digestive process, leading to faster bowel movement.
Eating Slowly And Carefully.
If you ate fast before, now you have to eat slowly and chew your food more deliberately. This will allow you to regulate the intake of your stomach and also help ease your digestion.
Change The Form Of Your Food.
If you’re finding it hard to eat whole foods then consider ground or pureed food. Eating food in these forms helps your stomach process the food more easily. Make sure, however, that you’re still consuming a balanced meal and not under-nourishing yourself despite the softer diet.
Consider What You Plan On Eating Before Consuming Them.
The types of food eaten may either contribute or prevent dumping syndrome from occurring. While it’s best to be guided by a doctor for this, here are some diet options you may already consider.

  • Avoid or regulate the intake of sweets and sugar-rich food. These include sodas, junk foods, cookies, and syrups. These are empty-calorie foods, so they do not provide any nutritional benefits. And as mentioned above, foods high in sugar can cause you to experience dumping syndrome.
  • Eat complex carbohydrates. These include whole grains, potatoes, unsweetened cereals, and the like. They will help you feel full longer, helping you avoid eating too fast, thus preventing dumping syndrome.
  • Eat more proteins such as eggs, fish, poultry, tofu and such. Proteins are great for building muscles, which help burn calories and keep you full for much longer. Stay away from processed meats, however, as these contain excess sugars, preservatives, and salt.
  • Fat such as cheese and butter can be included in your meals in controlled amounts. A small serving of this can help slow your stomach’s emptying action. Moderation is key here as too much fat will likely speed up stomach emptying instead.
  • Include also food with soluble fiber in your diet. Foods that are rich with soluble fiber are apples, spinach and beans to name a few. These are known to help ease symptoms of dumping syndrome and promote overall gut health.
  • Do take note that this is not a definitive list to help you resolve dumping syndrome. It’s best you seek advice from your doctor prior to starting any sort of diet program.

Learn More About Dumping Syndrome And Bariatric Surgery With Dr. David Davtyan

The possibility of having dumping syndrome is not pleasant to think about. It, after all, is a very inconvenient possible after-effect of bariatric surgery. But do take heart in the fact that not everyone is affected by it.

As long as you follow our tips above, you will have a lower probability of experiencing it.

Of course, the best way is still to get proper guidance from a caring doctor. That’s why Dr. David Davtyan is the best one to talk to when it comes to cases like these.

Not only is he one of the best bariatric surgeons in the country, but he has experienced his own obesity as well as his own surgical procedure. That means he is more than qualified to assuage your fears and answer any questions you may have.

If you’re interested in getting a procedure done, don’t hesitate! We welcome inquiries of all kinds.

Schedule your complimentary consultation today! We look forward to hearing from you.

Posted on behalf of Dr. David G. Davtyan MD, FACS, FICS

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