Dumping Syndrome Gastric Sleeve: What to Know

Dumping Syndrome Gastric Sleeve: What to Know

One of the concerns many bariatric patients have before bariatric surgery is dumping syndrome. After any surgery on the stomach, including sleeve gastrectomy surgery, patients are at risk for experiencing dumping syndrome.

However, with some good dietary habits, it is possible to prevent dumping syndrome and to avoid experiencing uncomfortable symptoms.

What is Dumping Syndrome After Gastric Sleeve?

Dumping syndrome is the general term for a group of uncomfortable symptoms that patients may experience after any stomach surgery. It may also be referred to as “rapid gastric emptying.” Dumping syndrome after gastric sleeve is relatively uncommon occurrence. It is more commonly experienced in patients after gastric bypass surgery.

Symptoms range from mild to severe, and the condition is usually related to poor food choices.

Common symptoms of dumping syndrome include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and rapid heart rate. Dumping syndrome is broken down into two subtypes: early dumping syndrome and late dumping syndrome.

  1. Early Dumping Syndrome: considered “early” when it occurs 15-60 minutes after eating. Symptoms usually include sweating, flushing, lightheadedness, rapid or irregular heart rate, the sensation of abdominal fullness, nausea, and cramping.
  2. Late Dumping Syndrome: symptoms of “late” dumping syndrome occur 2-3 hours after eating. These symptoms are related to low blood sugar and include sweating, shakiness, reduced ability to concentrate, hunger, and fainting.
Man holding his stomach in pain.
High sugar foods can cause uncomfortable cramping and blood sugar changes after gastric sleeve surgery.

Why Does Gastric Sleeve Dumping Syndrome and How Common Is It?

In healthy digestion (pre-surgery), the stomach empties food into the small intestine in a controlled process, mainly due to function of pyloric valve at the end of the stomach. After surgery, the anatomy is changed and pyloric valve is either bypassed as in gastric bypass or not functioning properly as in gastric sleeve.

Anyone who has had changes to their normal anatomy is at risk for this side effect.

Illustration of the digestive system.
Changes to the GI tract can alter the normal digestive process, possibly causing dumping syndrome gastric sleeve.

Avoiding Dumping Syndrome Gastric Sleeve Symptoms

The first line of treatment for dumping syndrome is often dietary changes. Changes in dietary patterns and food choices can help prevent or relieve symptoms.

  • Small portions and meals that include carbohydrates, fats, and protein
  • High fiber foods may slow absorption of sugar into the bloodstream
  • Separate eating drinking by at least 30 minutes
  • Avoid concentrated sweets such as cookies, candy, cake, and desserts
  • Avoid or limit alcohol

Planning meals ahead of time can help avoid making poor nutrition choices. Eating consistently throughout the day can also help patients prevent drastic changes in blood sugar levels.

If symptoms continue even after making dietary changes, it’s important to speak with your doctor. While dietary changes may relieve dumping syndrome symptoms, medication may also be necessary.

Yogurt parfait with fruit.
Combining sources of sugar with protein can help combat dumping syndrome. For example, try fruit with yogurt and nuts.

Summary

Dumping syndrome is an uncomfortable and unpleasant set of symptoms that are possible after any surgery involving the GI tract. However, patients who have undergone gastric sleeve surgery are less likely to develop dumping syndrome than gastric bypass patients.

Symptoms of dumping can be split into categories: early and late dumping syndrome. Early gastric sleeve dumping syndrome is caused by the rapid emptying of sugary or highly concentrated carbohydrates into the small intestine. Rapid fluctuations in blood sugar cause late gastric sleeve dumping syndrome. Ingestion of sugars can cause blood sugar to spike and then rapidly decrease.

Dumping syndrome after gastric sleeve is a possible side effect of surgery. However, there are ways to prevent and treat symptoms. Working with your dietitian and physician can potentially eliminate symptoms.

Most would agree that the benefits of bariatric or metabolic surgery greatly outweigh the risks. Long term weight maintenance and enhanced quality of life are a few of the benefits most patients experience after surgery.

Woman with a tape measure around her waist.
Bariatric surgery benefits include a better quality of life and improved overall health.

1. https://baribuilder.com/blog/gastric-sleeve-vs-gastric-bypass/

2. https://asmbs.org/resources/bariatric-surgery-postoperative-concerns

3. https://www.verywellhealth.com/what-to-do-for-dumping-syndrome-1945209

4. https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentTypeID=134&ContentID=107

5. https://renewbariatrics.com/dumping-syndrome/

6. https://www.pharmacytimes.com/publications/issue/2014/July2014/Complications-of-Bariatric-Surgery-Dumping-Syndrome-and-Drug-Disposition

7. https://baribuilder.com/blog/gastric-bypass-complications/

Morgyn Clair, MS, RDN

Author

Morgyn is an RD specializing in weight management and surgical weight loss. She has a master's in clinical nutrition and dietetics, and currently works as a clinical dietitian in a physician’s office.

Gintas Antanavicius, MD, FACS, FASMBS

Medical Reviewer

Dr. G is a co-founder of BariBuilder. A US-based expert surgeon with over 10 years of bariatric experience, he regularly publishes research in medical journals like SOARD, Obesity Surgery, etc.