FAQ: What Do I Do About Constipation?
What do I do about constipation? I have not gone in ten days!
DONíT WAIT UNTIL YOU NEED MEDICAL INTERVENTION FOR CONSTIPATION. The words 'Suppository' and 'Manual Extraction' are very real.
CONSTIPATION is the 2nd most common complication of bariatric surgery. Many of our new post ops end up hospitalized with the ole One Two Complication Punch of 1. Dehydration and 2. Constipation.
Post surgical constipation stems from being given pain medicine while in hospital (morphine etc.) which slows down the passage of food and therefore bowel movements through the intestine, plus the very nature of bariatric surgery traumatizes your GI tract by stopping its flow during surgery. FYI, antidepressants, heavy protein, no fiber and iron supplements may also contribute to constipation.
When I had surgery in 2001 you were not allowed to leave the hospital until you had a bowel movement, so they could make sure the synchronized movement called peristalsis had returned to your intestines and colon. Hospital stays are now shortened so you are on your own to monitor your own progress. When it comes to post surgical constipation, go big from the start as things get much worse with time and do not clear up on their own.
- Take Colace tablets with a big glass of water in the afternoon or evening. You have probably been cleared and even instructed to take Colace which is a stool softener. It works by increasing the amount of water the stool absorbs in the colon, making it softer and easier to pass. However, softening is only half of it. You also need need that slow contraction of the colon created by a laxative to SQUEEZE it out.
- Thats the job of Dulcolax, a very safe and gentle laxative or stool mover that is listed on most post op instruction sheets. Take Dulcoax with a big glass of water before bedtime. It works during the night to slowly contract the colon to push any stool towards the opening.
- To relieve constipation, you need both Colace to soften and Dulcolax to move. Soft and just sitting there is not going to help you. In the morning your stool will be in a position for you to move it out.
Well meaning people will tell you to take flax seed, herbal teas, probiotics or some sort of Metamucil or Fiber One and THESE ARE GREAT SUGGESTIONS TO PREVENT CONSTIPATION, but once you are already constipated these wonít do anything. Adding fiber once you are constipated is like adding sawdust to sink that is already clogged!
Do not let people scare you about laxatives - they exist because people need them. If you need one, use one. This is not 10th grade and we are not taking them to lose weight.
While we are not doctors, we know what manual extraction is and so do way too many bariatric post ops who wait for things to happen on their own. Do not go ANY LONGER thinking all will be fine on its own. Drop by a a grocery store or pharmacy, pick up both Colace and Dulcolax and take both of these meds tonight with a big glass of water so you will go in the morning.