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Dumping Syndrome. What It Is and Why We Love It

Man eats a sugary, high fat snack and suffers with symptoms of dumping syndrome after his gastric bypass surgery

Dumping syndrome is a postoperative concern primarily for gastric bypass patients. Dumping, also known as rapid gastric emptying, occurs when food from the stomach passes into the small intestine largely undigested. While this may seem relatively benign, and it certainly isn’t life-threatening, dumping can cause significant symptoms including tiredness, sweats, nausea, vomiting, and other symptoms associated with low blood sugar.

Why Does This Occur?

During the gastric bypass, not only is the stomach reduced in size and the part of the small intestine rerouted, but the opening between the stomach and the small intestine. known as the stoma, is cut away and a new valve is created surgically. This new valve, however, does not have the strength of the original valve and can more easily let food and drinks from the stomach into the small intestine prematurely.

Once the food enters the small intestine, the body secretes excess insulin which can drop blood sugar levels. So, the discomfort one feels with dumping syndrome is essentially a state of low blood sugar.

It is worth knowing that while gastric bypass patients are most susceptible to dumping syndrome, gastric sleeve patients can also experience a milder form. Truly, if you force anything into your stomach pouch, for example, by drinking liquids during a meal, you can experience rapid gastric emptying.

Why We Love It

On the surface, dumping syndrome sounds terrible. Why would anyone love a condition in which we feel terrible and under the weather? Well, as surgeons, we see dumping syndrome as a tool to ensure our patients comply with their diet program. What does that mean? This means that once a patient has experienced dumping syndrome a few times, they know exactly what foods trigger it and eventually avoid them. And you guessed it, those foods are never on the approved list of the post-bariatric diet. As such, we see dumping syndrome as a way to self-limit improper food and drink consumption.

To learn more about dumping syndrome and the gastric bypass, we encourage you to call us at schedule appointment with Dr. Higa. While the gastric bypass is not the most popular bariatric surgery in the United States, it is very effective for people that have poorly controlled type-2 diabetes or significant GERD.

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