Message Us Testimonials

What Is Dumping Syndrome and How It Can Help You Stay on Track

Ask any gastric bypass patient about dumping syndrome and you will likely be met with a distinct look of dread. Dumping syndrome is something that almost every bypass patient has experienced. So, let’s learn a little bit more about the gastric bypass and why dumping syndrome happens.

Man holds abdomen in discomfort after a fatty meal due to his dumping syndrome after weight loss surgery

Dumping syndrome is also known as rapid gastric emptying – when solids and liquids move from the stomach into the small intestine too quickly. Rapid gastric emptying occurs in bypass patients more frequently than gastric sleeve patients, for example, because the valve between the stomach and the small intestine is cut away during a bypass and a replacement valve is created surgically. This new valve does not offer the same closing pressure as the original anatomy. Therefore, when patients eat high fat, high sugar or large meals, or when they drink liquids during their meals, the contents of the stomach can empty into the small intestine too soon.

The result is that the sensitive lining of the small intestine absorbs significantly more nutrients, the body releases a flood of insulin to counteract it and soon after the meal, patients begin to feel the effects of low blood sugar which can include fatigue, nausea, and general unpleasantness. It is worth noting, however, that dumping syndrome is not a life-threatening condition – just uncomfortable.

So How Can It Help Us?

Based on what you read above, you may think that dumping syndrome is truly unpleasant and should be avoided at all costs. And that’s exactly why it can benefit your post-operative diet regimen. After one or two experiences with dumping syndrome, you will know exactly what foods you can tolerate and which ones you can’t. Fortunately, the ones that you likely won’t be able to tolerate are also the ones that aren’t very good for you. Therefore, the spectre of dumping syndrome lowers the likelihood of consuming the foods that you shouldn’t.

Do All Bariatric Patients Experience Dumping Syndrome?

In theory, anyone can experience dumping syndrome if they are able to push food through their stomach and into their small intestine faster than normal. However, gastric bypass patients are far more likely to develop dumping syndrome and it is also likely to be more severe.

The Bottom Line

Dumping syndrome shows that despite the outward appearance of a detrimental outcome, bariatric surgery provides benefits beyond just the restriction or malabsorption of calories. While we certainly agree that you should avoid the eating habits that could sideline you with dumping syndrome, we do look at this condition as a self-limiting factor to overeating and eating improperly. For more information and to learn more about the procedures that we offer, we look forward to scheduling you for a consultation with Dr. Higa.