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What Causes Hiccups After Gastric Sleeve Surgery?

What Causes Hiccups After Gastric Sleeve Surgery?


Gastric sleeve surgery is a reliable weight loss procedure that has helped many people shed excessive weight. Thanks to this procedure, many have improved their health. While gastric sleeve surgery has numerous benefits, some patients may experience a rather unexpected side effect: hiccups after gastric sleeve surgery. Read on as we will explore the reasons behind these hiccups and how to manage them.

Hiccups After Gastric Sleeve Surgery

Hiccups are involuntary contractions of the diaphragm followed by the closure of the vocal cords. This flow of events produces a distinct “hic” sound. It is not unusual to develop these post-surgery hiccups as they might occur shortly after the gastric bypass procedure. Here are some of the factors that contribute to their occurrence.

  • Diaphragm irritation: The stomach significantly reduces in size during gastric sleeve surgery. The rapid shrinkage can irritate the diaphragm, which is the muscle that controls breathing. Consequently, the patient will develop hiccups.
  • Air swallowing: Hiccups can also result from swallowing air. This is quite common, especially if a breathing tube is used. The air may remain trapped in the stomach and cause hiccups when it is released. 
  • Anesthesia effects: The use of anesthesia during surgery can affect the body’s reflexes and sometimes lead to postoperative hiccups. These hiccups typically subside as the anesthesia wears off.

Managing Painful Hiccups After Gastric Sleeve Surgery

While hiccups after VSG might throw you off a bit, the good news is they are usually just a temporary bother and disappear within a few days or weeks. However, there are several strategies to help manage and dismiss these hiccups:

  • Stay hydrated: Ensure you’re giving your body the hydration it craves. Take small sips of water or clear fluids—It’s like a spa treatment for your diaphragm. Consistent hydration is key.
  • Take slow, deep breaths: Breathe in, breathe out—a few minutes of these mindful breaths can make a noticeable difference in taming those hiccups.
  • Medications: In extreme cases, your healthcare provider may prescribe medications to alleviate persistent and painful hiccups.
  • Avoid carbonated beverages: Carbonated drinks can exacerbate hiccups. Therefore, it is best to avoid them during your recovery. If you have to drink something carbonated, keep it at extremely low levels until recovery.

What Next After Gastric Sleeve Surgery?

Hiccups after sleeve surgery are a temporary and manageable side effect. While they may be bothersome, understanding the underlying causes and employing the right strategies can help alleviate discomfort. Our team at Lenox Hill Hospital is available to make your recovery as smooth as possible after gastric bypass surgery in NYC. Call us today!