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Food intolerance means that your body can't digest certain foods the way it should. Food intolerance is a risk after laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding (LAGB) surgery. This weight-loss surgery puts a band around the top section of your stomach. It creates a small stomach pouch at the top, and a narrow opening down to the bottom part of the stomach. This helps you feel full with less food. But after surgery, you may have trouble eating certain foods, such as meat, fruits, or vegetables. This can cause symptoms such as nausea and vomiting. And it may lead to low levels of certain nutrients in your body.
The band narrows the upper stomach, and limits the amount of food you can eat in one meal. The food you eat goes into the small stomach pouch at the top, and then moves through the narrowed opening to the bottom of your stomach. But foods that aren’t chewed enough or are large or tough may have trouble moving through the narrow opening. This can include dry foods, tough meats, bread, and fibrous fruits and vegetables. Soft, moist, well-chewed foods should go down fairly easily, and give you a feeling of fullness after a small portion. If the band is too tight, then you will have food intolerance to even soft, moist foods. Liquids should go down with no problems. If drinking liquids gives you discomfort, then the band is likely too tight.
In some cases, the tube leading down to the stomach (esophagus) may also not move normally. Food may stick as it travels through the esophagus to the stomach.
Symptoms of food intolerance can include:
If the band has moved from its original position (band slip or gastric prolapse), then you may have heartburn and reflux, and vomiting. If this occurs, see your bariatric surgeon right away.
Your healthcare provider will talk with you about your symptoms. In some cases, you may have an imaging test such as an upper GI series or CT scan. These can let your healthcare provider look at your esophagus, stomach, and the gastric band.
Your healthcare provider may loosen your band by removing some fluid. Your bariatric surgery team will also advise you about the kinds of foods you should eat. If you can't eat high-protein foods such as meat, you may be prescribed a liquid protein supplement for a while. You’ll also need to:
Ongoing food intolerance can cause malnutrition. This should be treated as early as possible, because it can become hard to treat and even life-threatening in advanced stages. If you have severe food intolerance, you may need to have your gastric band deflated or removed. If the band is too tight, your esophagus may become much larger than normal as it stretches to hold food. In severe cases, the esophagus may not work normally in the future.
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:
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