After the operation
Once you have had a gastrectomy operation, you will be fitted with a nasogastric tube, which is a thin tube that passes down your nose and into your stomach or small intestine. This allows the fluids that are produced by your stomach to be sucked out regularly without you feeling sick.
Until you are able to eat and drink normally, you will be fed intravenously (through a tube inserted directly into a vein). Most people are able to resume a light diet between 4-5 days after having a gastrectomy.
You will need to take painkillers for a few days. You should tell your treatment team if the painkillers that you are taking aren't working because alternative painkillers are available.
Following a gastrectomy, you will probably be able to return home within 1-2 weeks after having the operation.
Adjusting to a new diet
Whatever type of gastrectomy you require, you will need to make changes to your diet. You may find that food or drink that you enjoyed before the operation, now gives you indigestion. Many people find that keeping a food diary enables them to record the effects that certain types of food have on their digestion.
It is likely that you will have to eat smaller, more frequent meals for quite a long time after having a gastrectomy. However, over time, your remaining stomach and/or small bowel will begin to stretch, and you will gradually be able to eat larger, less frequent meals.
You should avoid eating high-fibre foods immediately after having a gastrectomy because they will make you feel uncomfortably full. High-fibre foods include:
- wholemeal bread,
- wholegrain rice and pasta,
- beans, and
Over time, you will be able to gradually increase the amount of fibre in your diet.
If you have had a partial gastrectomy, you may be able to get enough vitamins and minerals from your diet by eating foods that are high in these nutrients. In particular, you should eat foods that are high in calcium, iron, vitamin C, and vitamin D.
Foods that are high in calcium include:
- cabbage, and
Foods that are high in iron include:
- red meat,
- wholemeal bread, and
- leafy green vegetables.
Foods that are high in vitamin C include:
- brussel sprouts,
- kiwi fruits,
- grapefruits, and
Foods that are high in vitamin D include:
- eggs, and
- oily fish, such as sardines, herrings, mackerel, and salmon.
Some people who have had a partial gastrectomy, and almost all of those who have had a total gastrectomy, will need to have regular injections of vitamin B12 because this vitamin is difficult for your body to absorb from food.
Many people who have had a total gastrectomy may be unable to get enough iron, calcium, vitamin C, and vitamin D from their diet, so they may require additional food supplements.
After having a gastrectomy, you will receive regular blood tests to check that you are receiving the correct amount of vitamins and minerals in your diet.
Stomach: The sac-like organ of the digestive system. It helps digest food by churning it and mixing it with acids to break it down into smaller pieces.
Intravenously: Intravenous (IV) means the injection of blood, drugs or fluids into the bloodstream through a vein.