Smoking after Gastric Bypass Surgery – Bad Idea

Smoking Cigarette

I figured I would address the elephant in the room, well my room at least. That elephant is evil cigarette addiction it’s a bad idea, and even more so after having Gastric Bypass Surgery.

When I started this blog I promised I would share, the good, the bad and the UGLY – well this falls under the UGLY and BAD for sure. Thankfully most will not have to deal with this, but if you do you will understand this post. Smoking Sucks !!!

I have been a smoker for many many years, yup an absolute horrible habit and one I wish I never ever started. Over the years I was able to quit cold turkey with no issues, but something always made me go back and pick them up. I have quit for long periods of time and also short periods of time over the years. I am fully aware of the damage they can do and the risks involved in this stupid habit.

I have lost family members to cancer, one being my mother when I was only 8. She did not die of smoking related cancer, but she was also a smoker and cancer is cancer to me. I have lost others to the “Cancer” disease and have had some who thank god are in remission. I have watched my husband struggle with his lung issues (long story, but mainly related to work incident) and he was once a smoker as well. So what the hell is my problem? Why do cigarettes have such a hold on me?

With that all said – when I got my first date for my Gastric Bypass Surgery I had to sign a contract saying I would quit smoking no less than 6 weeks prior to my surgery. I got myself some nicotine patches, roughed it out and did just that. Yes I was climbing up the walls, ripping my hair out, but I did it !! Then right before that surgery date I got declined by my insurance company. I went into a major depression and was losing my mind – so what do I do? I freakin’ smoke after I went crazy quitting and knew when I got approved for the surgery in a few months from then I would have to quit all over again. I should be committed right?

Well the time came when I was finally approved and I had my new date – so guess what I had to do – quit again. So I went insane all over again, but I did it and I swore that was the very last time. So I had my surgery and afterwards I was fine. I still battled the cravings, but fought those suckers tooth and nail until….. About a month after my surgery I fell into another depression (see post HERE), my hormones were going bonkers from all the changes and breaking up with my food, my comfort, was so very hard. I broke down and smoked a cigarette. I told myself I would only smoke one. Yup who was I kidding, like that was gonna happen.

So here I am back with a habit that I have yet to shake, yet again. I know I have to or I may end up with lots of possible complications that can happen from smoking after having Gastric Bypass. Even though I started taking an antacid daily (Omeprazole) since I started in hopes to stall any of them that does not mean poop.

Gastric Bypass and Smoking Complications:

  • Ulcers – This is #1
  • Slows down healing by decreasing the blood supply
  • Increases chances of leaks
  • Increases chances of incisional hernias
  • Increase chances of developing Gall Stones

Ulcers are the #1 risk of Smoking after surgery among the many others. Our new pouches are very small and having an ulcer occur would not be very good at all and could potentially be dangerous. In addition to that your doctor may want to do an Upper Endoscopy to see what kind of ulcer may have occurred. The most common is a Marginal Ulcer that is caused from smoking and it is usually treated with medications. BUT sometimes ulcers can bleed, cause scarring and or perforation with leakage of gastric contents. None of that sounds fun to me – you?

So what is wrong with me and why can I not quit this stinky habit? Habits suck they really do. If you smoke or have you know all to well just how hard this is – the hold these cigarettes have on us is crazy, let alone the money we spend to buy them. I am writing this post to help me get on the track to quit yet again, but this time truly will be the very last. I know I am not alone with this smoking after gastric bypass, but most will not fess up. I want to be open with all my readers, I am only human and I have my flaws just like the rest of you all.

Recently I started experiencing some burning in my belly and the red light went off – could I be developing an Ulcer? Even if you do not smoke you can develop one after bypass, but because I have chosen a no-no – my risks double for one. Have I stopped smoking yet? – unfortunately I have not, but I am like I said working up to quitting again. I am in tune with the feelings/burning in my belly and will discuss if it continues at my next appointment with my surgeon on May 22nd – he is gonna kill me when I confess, but I am hoping to have quit by then. Oh I just gave myself a goal I guess. Time to set that quit date it seems.

So with that being said I will keep you all up to date and let you all know when that quit date is (gonna have to be before May 22nd I know that). I will need all the support I can get and you may see some crazy posts during that time – I do get a bit looney, so that is a warning.

Wish there was some magic wand way that can help those of us with quitting smoking, but there is not. It is one of the biggest head games I have ever played and I cannot believe I am going to be taking part again. Ugh !!! I just hope this time I come out a true winner.

Depression after Gastric Bypass Surgery – it happens


TruthIf you have had or are thinking of getting Gastric Bypass Surgery make sure you know the signs of depression. Depression following Gastric Bypass is very common and I have already had a bout of it myself.

Just let me start by saying I am no doctor, but I do know a lot about depression and I have also done my research on the subject. I have suffered from depression most of my life and have been treated for it via medication for years along with seeing a psychologist from time to time. It is not a fun feeling at all. It truly sucks to be quite honest and you feel like crappola !!

I have been on 40 mg of Celexa for years now after trying many different medications to find what works for me. I also have anxiety as well. I know a true mess I am right? The medication does a great job of keeping me in check, but it is NOT a cure all either.

Here are some of the Symptoms of Depression:

Emotional Symptoms

  • constant sadness
  • irritability
  • hopelessness
  • feeling worthless or guilty for no reason
  • loss of interest in favorite activities

Physical Symptoms

  • trouble sleeping
  • low energy or fatigue
  • significant weight change
  • difficulty concentrating

Well I have had my depression under control for the most part, but after I had my Gastric Bypass Surgery I had those horrible feelings come back and hit me hard. It hit me about week 2 post op and lasted a couple weeks. I felt miserable and just laid around the house, in bed and had no energy or motivation to do anything. I was confused thinking why am I feeling this way, I should feel great I was losing weight and having no complications with the surgery or anything. No matter how hard I tried to shake it, it just would not let go.

So I started doing some research online to see if this was something that occurred after Gastric Bypass Surgery. Well guess what? YES it is and it is not uncommon at all. Here are some of the things I had read:

Research has shown that low calorie diets may cause depression, and a low-calorie diet can increase the symptoms in already diagnosed depressive people (that’s me !!). The diet following gastric bypass surgery is so low in calories that depression often follows the procedure – but patients rarely recognize the cause. Depression can be caused by inadequate levels of mood stabilizing chemicals such as serotonin, nor-epinephrine, and dopamine. These brain chemicals can be altered by nutritional deficiencies and the physical stress of recovering from a major surgery.

Another reason is if you are a comfort eater like myself – well that goes out the window. Food can no longer comfort you like it did prior to the surgery. It is like you are breaking up with your best friend. Your vice is now gone. For me I had also given up smoking so now I had nothing to fall back on. I was losing my mind for a bit there – literally !!

When I had my first post op appointment with my surgeon I talked to him about it. He said Gastric Bypass causes so many changes in one’s life and it is hard to grasp it all at once. Everything changes – your self image, eating habits, relationships and even the way your body absorbs medication. Which was funny because I was feeling like I stopped taking my medication all together even though I did not.

Depression is serious and should not be overlooked – people even commit suicide from it. I am glad to say that I have never gotten that bad, but many do. Everyone should know the warning signs and not ignore it. Research also shows that people who suffer from depression after Gastric Bypass will replace one compulsive habit, such as overeating with another bad habit such as drinking or gambling. They call it “Addiction Transfer”. That can also be very scary and deadly depending on what habit one chooses. I also read that experts agree that gastric bypass does not cause addiction, rather if someone has an addiction prior to the surgery that it is likely they will have one after, although a different one. I read that and think to myself – Oh Great just what I need.

If some people think that having Gastric Bypass is a Quick Fix – It is not at all. It is a rollercoaster of ups and downs and I just started the ride myself. I say to just be educated on every aspect going in and you should do just fine. Know what may occur and be prepared. Depression is so common and trust me is sucks big time !! If you feel you have symptoms of depression don’t wait – talk to your doctor there is help.

So how am I coping? Well I will tell ya that I am feeling much better. At about week 4ish post op I started feeling more like myself again almost overnite. BUT I do have a horrible confession to make and I am not happy about it at all. My family when they read this is gonna have my head on a chopping board, but I told myself when writing this blog that I was going to be honest about everything. So here it goes…. I have picked up cigarettes again.

I am so stupid and now I will have to quit all over again, but I fell into the “Addiction Transfer” as I spoke about above. I do not think that the cigarettes made the depression go away, but it definitely helped with some of my sanity. BUT by doing so I have put myself in risk for other issues such as ulcers if I continue. Smoking after Gastric Bypass is not a good thing to do at all and I know that. I started taking Omeprazole which is a generic Prilosec to help coat my stomach and help prevent any issues. Bottom line is that I have to quit yet again. I know it does not matter, but I am only have a few a day just to take the edge off. Yes I will stand up and say it “I am Nicole and I am an ASS”.

I do know that the depression can come back at anytime and if it does I will see my doctor about changing my meds or even see a psychologist. At this time I feel it is under control, well besides my addiction transfer, but I will work on that too and keep you updated on my progress. I am not perfect by any means and this road is not easy, but I am on it and that is all that matters right? even if I hit some road blocks along the way.