What medications can you not take after gastric sleeve surgery? You must know that there are some medications to avoid after gastric sleeve surgery. It’s more likely that you’ll continue taking your medications normally after the restriction period, unlike in the case of other weight loss procedures. Your doctor may advise you to restrain from using these drugs for a few weeks or months following the procedure.
Because your stomach is still in a healing process after the procedure, the stomach will not be able to absorb medicines as it use to for a while. Thus, it would be wise to adjust your stomach by either reducing dosages or staying away from some specific medicines.
Here’s what you need to know about medications to avoid after gastric sleeve surgery.
Which medications should you avoid?
You must stay away from some drugs because they may damage your healing stomach, cause blood clots, or won’t be properly absorbed after your sleeve gastrectomy. These include NSAIDs like ibuprofen or aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs, steroids, blood thinners, and non-prescribed herbal supplements.
Other examples of medications to avoid after gastric sleeve surgery are extended-release medications and enteric-coated medicines because they can be difficult to absorb after your weight loss sleeve procedure. These kinds of drugs need to be avoided entirely.
You also can’t take estrogen-containing medications, including oral contraceptive treatment, for at least two weeks after your gastric sleeve. They might be the reason for blood clots and increase your risk of post-surgery complications.
You should also pay attention to the form in which you can take your medications. Some of them can be taken orally as a liquid, crushed, chewed, or consumed sublingually.
NSAIDs, Anti-inflammatory drugs, steroids
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are common medications that are widely used to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and bring down a high temperature. Most common types of NSAIDs are ibuprofen and naproxen. Keep in mind that many anti-arthritis medications, such as celecoxib, diflunisal, or diclofenac, also belong to NSAIDs.
Why you should avoid it: Chronic use of NSAIDs can cause gastric ulcers. Remember that you are at a higher risk for developing stomach ulcers after your sleeve gastrectomy. Studies show that gastric sleeve surgery is related to an increased risk of gastro-esophageal reflux disease following the procedure. (2) For this reason, it is advised to use medicines that will protect your stomach and help reduce its irritation if you need to take NSAIDs.
Until when you should avoid it: Pain meds after gastric sleeve procedure that are NSAIDs are generally not recommended for one month after the surgery. While occasional use of NSAIDs is not totally restricted, you should avoid taking them every day. It’s always best to consult your doctor about the usage of NSAIDs after gastric sleeve. (1)
What are the alternatives: As a replacement for NSAIDs as a pain reliever, you may use drugs containing paracetamol and acetaminophen, which are less harmful to your stomach.
Aspirin and blood thinners
You’ll get a blood thinning shot after the surgery. Blood thinners will also be prescribed to you as injections after your hospital discharge. For this reason, there is no need to use blood thinners such as warfarin or heparin.
Why you should avoid it: Aspirin and aspirin-containing medications like cold and flu remedies or Alka Seltzer belong to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. NSAIDs may be the reason for stomach ulcers after your sleeve gastrectomy. That’s why using them within a month following your procedure is not recommended.
What happens if you take it: Blood thinners are medicines that prevent blood clots from forming. You will be encouraged to walk after the surgery, so your blood circulation is going to improve and the risk of blood clots will decrease. If you take blood thinners while recovering you may face internal bleeding.
Until when you should avoid it: You need to wait until your stomach totally recovers. That means after 6-8 weeks of your surgery, you can take aspirin and blood thinners.
Herbal supplements and vitamins
After your weight loss surgery, there will be consuming fewer vitamins and minerals because of the diet you’ll be following. To prevent these deficiencies, your doctor is going to prescribe you all the appropriate mineral and vitamin supplements.
Why you should avoid it: Remember that herbal supplements are also medications. When non-prescribed, they can harm your stomach. Always talk to your doctor before taking any kind of medicine. You should avoid herbal supplements and vitamins after gastric sleeve that aren’t recommended by your physician.
Until when you should avoid it: You must wait at least two weeks to let your stomach recover. After 2 weeks, please consult your doctor before taking any herbal supplements.
Beware the delivery mechanism
After your sleeve gastrectomy, you will be on a complete liquid diet for at least two weeks. During this time it’s best that you choose the liquid version of your medications if they’re available. Liquid drugs are also faster absorbed than medications in solid form or oily solutions. Just be cautious about the high sugar levels some of these liquid drugs may contain. (3)
Pills and capsules
You may as, “when can I take capsules after gastric sleeve?” The problem with large-size tablets and capsules is that they may stuck in your gastrointestinal tract. That’s why it is recommended you crush the tablets and open the capsules. Then you can mix them with a fluid, like water, or liquid food. You may also chew your tablets completely and then wash them down with some liquid. You can continue to use them this way for the first few weeks after your procedure.
Effervescent tablets should be avoided after your gastric sleeve surgery. They build up gas that is trapped in the pouch of your stomach and can be very uncomfortable for your digestive system. The excess sodium in these formulations is also not good for you if you are suffering from hypertension. (4) If you really need your effervescent medicine in this form, keep in mind that you may use it after the restriction time is over. Remember though that the tablet should be fully dissolved and settled before you drink it.
Always keep in mind that if you are currently taking any medications or supplements on a regular basis, it’s essential to let your doctor know about them before the surgery. This way you will make sure that you follow a healthy treatment plan during your recovery process. Also, they can arrange these medications if they might react to one another.
(1) Begian A, Samaan JS, Hawley L, Alicuben ET, Hernandez A, Samakar K. The use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs after sleeve gastrectomy. Surg Obes Relat Dis. 2021 Mar;17(3):484-488. doi: 10.1016/j.soard.2020.11.016. Epub 2020 Nov 20. PMID: 33353863. Link
(2) El-Hadi M, Birch DW, Gill RS, Karmali S. The effect of bariatric surgery on gastroesophageal reflux disease. Can J Surg. 2014 Apr;57(2):139-44. doi: 10.1503/cjs.030612. PMID: 24666452; PMCID: PMC3968207. Link
(3) Kingma JS, Burgers DMT, Monpellier VM, Wiezer MJ, Blussé van Oud-Alblas HJ, Vaughns JD, Sherwin CMT, Knibbe CAJ. Oral drug dosing following bariatric surgery: General concepts and specific dosing advice. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2021 Dec;87(12):4560-4576. doi: 10.1111/bcp.14913. Epub 2021 Jun 3. PMID: 33990981; PMCID: PMC9291886. Link
(4) Miedziaszczyk M, Ciabach P, Szałek E. The Effects of Bariatric Surgery and Gastrectomy on the Absorption of Drugs, Vitamins, and Mineral Elements. Pharmaceutics. 2021 Dec 7;13(12):2111. doi: 10.3390/pharmaceutics13122111. PMID: 34959391; PMCID: PMC8708306. Link