Frequently Asked Questions

Here is a list of commonly asked questions through our Facebook Community.  This information is meant only as a general guide.  The information found here should not replace any directions or instructions provided by your doctor.  If you have further questions, please contact your physician or Registered Dietitian. 

 

Important information!

This page contains links to external websites.

Any external links used by Gastrectomy Connections are for general information only.

What is a Total Gastrectomy?


Gastrectomy is the surgical removal of all or part of the stomach. For more information click this link https://www.nostomachforcancer.org/about/life-without-a-stomach/gastrectomy




What types of food can I eat after my surgery?


Initially after surgery you will not be able to eat very much. Certain food and drinks that you could consume prior to surgery maybe on the NO GO list, or at least for a while. Food which could potentially cause blockages (i.e peas, corn, celery, carrots), fruits high in sugar, yoghurt or drinks containing lactose, alcohol, pasta and rice are types of foods which you may need to adjust or live without depending on how your body reacts. Some members like to keep a food journal and others use phone apps to monitor daily calories. You will find over the course of a year what you couldn’t eat in the first few months, you can try again. It will change. The main thing now is to start focusing on what you can eat, not what you can’t.

https://www.nostomachforcancer.org/about/life-without-a-stomach/nutrition-after-gastrectomy

https://med.virginia.edu/ginutrition/wp-content/uploads/sites/199/2015/11/radiganarticle-June-04.pdf




Can I have a healthy, productive life after gastric surgery?


Yes,absolutely but dont expect it to happen in a couple of weeks. Through personal experience and feedback from the Gastrectomy Community, your body will take around a year to find its new normal. If you like to exercise or go to the gym then please consult your doctor prior to undertaking any new physical activity. Hernias are quite common post-surgery and all care must be taken when lifting or exerting yourself.




How do I prepare for surgery?


You will most likely have a long list of questions. The No Stomach For Cancer website lists a few helpful ideas for things you can do prior to going in for surgery.

For more information

https://www.nostomachforcancer.org/about/life-without-a-stomach/gastrectomy/preparing-for-gastrectomy




Can I have a baby post gastrectomy?


We have had several Facebook members have successful pregnancies post surgery. Summer Dawn, one of our Facebook Administrators has started her own Facebook Group for those wanting to connect and discuss all things pregnancy and babies. https://m.facebook.com/groups/262870400860370

For other FAQ’s regarding pregnancy you may also like to read this link from the No Stomach for Cancer Website. https://www.nostomachforcancer.org/about/life-without-a-stomach/pregnancy




What are some of the side effects post surgery?


  • Dramatic Weight Loss - You may experience changes as your body reacts to the rapid weight loss in the first three to six months after gastric surgery, including:

Body aches

Feeling tired, as if you have the flu

Feeling cold

Dry skin

Hair thinning and hair loss

Mood changes

  • PTSD, Anxiety, Depression

If you feel you are suffering from any of these conditions please consult your medical team.

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder/symptoms-causes/dxc-20308550

  • Increase in Gas

It happens to the best of us! Try a daily probiotic and Google the FODMAPS diet. There are some foods that you can avoid to help elevate some of your gas issues.

https://med.virginia.edu/ginutrition/wp-content/uploads/sites/199/2014/04/Low_FODMAP_Diet_12.16.pdf

  • Dumping Syndrome

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dumping-syndrome/basics/definition/con-20028034

https://med.virginia.edu/ginutrition/wp-content/uploads/sites/199/2014/04/Post_Gastrectomy_and_Dumping_Diet_12.5.14.pdf

  • Gastrointestinal Malabsorption

https://patient.info/doctor/gastrointestinal-malabsorption

  • Malabsorption Syndrome

https://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/malabsorption-syndrome#1

  • Reactive Hypoglycaemia

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/expert-answers/reactive-hypoglycemia/faq-20057778

  • Increased risk of gall stones and gallbladder disorders post gastrectomy

An unfortunate side effect of rapid weight loss such as is usually experienced after a gastrectomy is the formation of gallstones.

  • Dehydration




How soon can I go back to work?


General feedback from the Support Page Community suggest around 3 months post surgery. Your body will tell you how ready you are sometimes if you go back to work too early, your healing may take a few steps backwards. If you have a physically demanding job, you may need a little longer. Get the all clear from your doctors before you take the step to back to work.




How long will I be in hospital?


Typically from 3 days onwards. Your hospital stay will depend on your state of health, the type of surgery you are having and which location in the world you are having it in. This is one of those questions you may like to discuss with your surgeon.




Can I have a colonoscopy after a total gastrectomy?


In short, yes. The prep is still extremely unpleasant and if you have issues with dehydration then consult your doctors. (Personally, I try and make sure I book weeks ahead so I am first on the list for the procedure. After fasting for a day and no liquids after midnight I get extremely low blood pressure. Once the procedure is done you can resume eating normally. - Michelle)




Will I need iron infusions?


Iron infusions are very common post surgery. A blood test can determine if your levels are low.




Is taking B12 necessary?


Yes. B12 is available via injections, oral spray and sublingual tablets. Please discuss with your doctor what will work best for you. Regular blood tests are required to monitor your B12 levels.

https://www.b12deficiency.info/books/

https://med.virginia.edu/ginutrition/wp-content/uploads/sites/199/2014/06/PG_Jan09_daSilvaArticle.pdf

https://med.virginia.edu/ginutrition/wp-content/uploads/sites/199/2015/11/radiganarticle-June-04.pdf

https://www.nostomachforcancer.org/about/life-without-a-stomach/special-concerns/nutrient-deficiencies




What is a DEXA scan?


A DEXA scan measures the density of your bones. This scan is generally performed at the same clinic every two years to keep a record of your bone density. As we are more susceptible to osteoporosis due to malnutrition deficiencies this is one way to keep an active eye on our health. If you live in Australia this should be covered under Medicare due to your medical condition.

​https://www.webmd.com/osteoporosis/guide/dexa-scan

https://med.virginia.edu/ginutrition/wp-content/uploads/sites/199/2014/04/Calcium-and-Vitamin-D-2016.pdf




Should I have my Gallbladder removed at the same time?


You may wish to discuss the removal of your gallbladder with your surgeon prior to your gastrectomy. When you lose weight quickly the liver releases extra cholesterol into the bile. Fast weight loss can also prevent the gallbladder from emptying properly, which can lead to gall stones. If your gastrectomy is performed via an open incision, adhesions and location may make it difficult for further keyhole surgery. Having your gallbladder removed at the same time as your gastrectomy may also rule out further abdominal surgery. Your surgeon will be the best person to guide you on a decision regarding this.




Do I need to take Vitamin D?


So many health conditions can arise from low vitamin D levels. It is very important for the reduction of diseases as well as the absolution of calcium. The Vitamin D Council provides excellent resources and information. Definitely worth popping over their website for a read. Blood tests can determine your Vitamin D levels. https://www.vitamindcouncil.org/





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