Even with an unaltered digestive system and unrestricted diet, we’ve all dealt with constipation from time to time. Usually, a laxative or a change in diet will help. After bariatric surgery, though, it’s not always that easy.

Every person’s digestive system and bowel habits are different, but several changes after bariatric surgery can lead most people to constipation:

  • Your digestive tract moves less food than before surgery.
  • The composition of the food moving through your digestive system is different, depending on the type of surgery you had.
  • You must follow a specific diet and eat much smaller amounts than before surgery.
  • You’ll be drinking less fluid than before.

Before you do anything about it, make sure you are genuinely constipated. Just because you don’t move your bowels as often as before does not mean that you are constipated. If you have a bowel movement at least once every three days with no abdominal discomfort, you probably are not constipated. If you suffer pain when trying to move your bowels or feel like you have to go, but nothing happens, talk to your bariatric surgeon.

For the first month or so after weight loss surgery, you might have to take a stool softener. After that, an increase in fluid and fiber might be able to resolve your constipation. Perhaps the best thing you can do to prevent and relieve constipation is to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day by frequently taking small sips throughout the day.

Exercising is a great way to prevent and treat constipation. Small amounts of activity, such as short walks, will make you feel better, keep you in shape, and stimulate your bowels. You never have to suffer from the pain and discomfort of constipation. If you experience any signs of constipation, contact your bariatric surgeon immediately.

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