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Total Esophajectomy - Recovery Process

Rachel29's picture
Posts: 3
Joined: Mar 2012

Hello, I am 29, had my surgery about 3 weeks ago, and am now trying to figure out how to manage my eating and drinking. I have had problems with dumping and lately gas. Every time I eat or drink I get a feeling in my new esophagus - like I want to throw up what I just had, and ultimately I end up running to a sink to relieve myself. It's not vomiting, more big bubbles of air that come out with my saliva. And when this happens I experience relief. Does anyone else suffer from this and knows what the cause is? Also, pretty much every day my "stomach" hurts, and I generally have a "sick" feeling. Is this normal for everyone? My diet eat less than 1 cup of food then drink less than one cup 45 minutes after. It doesnt seem to matter what it is I eat I think - we think it is how I eat it - apparently the surgery cuts of nerve endings from your stomach so it doesnt empty as quickly as usual and that is the reason for discomfort.

Anyone who has had similar experiences please write...
Will it always be like this? Should I be taking Pepto Bismol everyday to deal with the gas, nausea, heartburn, etc?
Thank you,

paul61's picture
Posts: 1262
Joined: Apr 2010


It is certainly normal to have some digestion issues for the first couple of months after surgery. We have to learn to avoid certain types of food, we have to learn to eat very slowly and chew very thoroughly.

I also experienced abdominal discomfort after eating for about two months after my esophagectomy. The discomfort normally passed about an hour or two after eating.

It sounds like you may be swallowing air while eating. I often have that problem if I eat too fast. I have found GasX strips to be helpful in dealing with the excess gas.

I assume your surgeon gave you some information on diet guidelines but just in case he didn’t here is a reference for an esophagectomy diet:

Esophagectomy Diet

It is also typical to experience “Dumping” for several months after gastric surgery. Here is a reference to a diet guideline that helps with Dumping but quite frankly “time” is the best solution for dumping.

Dumping Syndrome Diet

I know it is frustrating to deal with these diet and digestion issues post surgery. But in many cases they do resolve themselves with time, and learning what foods work and what food do not work.

My eating guidelines include:

1. Eat slowly and chew, chew, chew
2. Avoid food containing sugar and simple carbohydrates
3. Drink sparingly with meals (Just sips at a time)
4. Rest in an upright position for at least 30 minutes after eating
5. Eat small amounts six to seven times a day
6. Avoid carbonated beverages

Of course you should discuss your issues with your surgeon. If indeed you do have an issue with slow stomach emptying there are medications that can help with that.
I hope you will be feeling better soon.

Best Regards,

Paul Adams
McCormick, South Carolina

DX 10/22/2009 T2N1M0 Stage IIB
12/03/2009 Ivor Lewis
2/8 through 6/14/2010 Adjuvant Chemo Cisplatin, Epirubicin, 5 FU
Two year survivor

Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we are here we might as well dance!

Rachel29's picture
Posts: 3
Joined: Mar 2012

Thank you so much Paul

Tina Blondek's picture
Tina Blondek
Posts: 1566
Joined: Nov 2009

Hi Rachel
I was a caregiver for my dad. He passed in March 2010 from EC with mets to the liver. My dad was not able to have the surgery, so I can not relate to you in that way. There are many people here who have, and they will be responding. From what I have learned from others, all that you are going through is normal. The feeling, the bubbles, the dumping. Congrats on a successful surgery, and the best of luck to you. Keep in touch.
Tina in Va

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Rachel29's picture
Posts: 3
Joined: Mar 2012

Thank you William

GerryS's picture
Posts: 240
Joined: Aug 2010

As usual, Paul is right on. It will improve with time. I thought I would never eat normal again. I am 2 years out from surgery and eating has improved and nearly normal. You will learn as you go. Your stomach will adjust.
God bless and all the best.


mardigras's picture
Posts: 210
Joined: Sep 2011

Hello Rachel, My husband had surgery on 29th February. He finds that 'yakult' helps.
I don't know if others eat probiotic yogurt, but yakult is a tiny pot about a third the size of an actimel. Rob has one first thing every morning.
Hope it works for you.
Prayers and hugs
Marci x

sandy1943's picture
Posts: 883
Joined: Jun 2010

Hi Rachel, It's been four years since surgery and things will improve,. You'll learn what your new system can handle. I can eat almost anything now,. somtimes I can't eat as much as others and I will have nausea and stomach pain. I never know when it will happen, but it is short lived.If you're not on an acid reflux medicine you should be, talk to your doctor. Most of us will be on it for life. Also if you're not sleeping elevated, you need to be. I might have repeated some of the others advice. I didn't read them all because we are family and I am very familiar with the great advice given by the others without re reading it. WAs your cancer adiocarcimona or squamous cell? What was the stage. I was stage 111 adiocarcimona and I'm cancer free today.
Sending prayers your way

captdave's picture
Posts: 168
Joined: Feb 2012

Hi Rachel, Its been under three months since my THE. I have occasional feelings of needing to relieve the fullness in my stomach that seems to back up into my throat and I usually end up burping. Burping is much more difficult and far different then before the THE. The burping removes air from my stomach and lets the food or liquid settle into my stomach and I then no longer feel as if I have it backed up into my throat. If you are drinking from a straw that can introduce more air into your stomach. I'm surprised you are experiencing heartburn due to the clipping of the nerves that control the proton pumps is standard procedure for this type of surgery. Did your Doc's put you on any proton pump inhibitor like prevacid etc.. post surgery? If not you may want to ask them to. My surgeon put me on them and said that after a few months i can try going without them and see how I feel but he defiantly wanted me on them for the first several months after surgery.

Good luck and welcome to recovery!


Cora11's picture
Posts: 177
Joined: Sep 2011

Hi Rachael
Another option for you might be the drug reglan. Even though you are dumping you also might be having at other times some delayed gastric emptying. The reglan might make the dumping worse on the other hand they might find a dose that helps but doesn't trigger dumping. Just one suggestion for you. Also just a reminder to sleep w your head elevated. Do you go for a wallk after you eat? That also might help your symptoms calm down.

Posts: 131
Joined: Jan 2010


I am 37 years old, I was diagnosed at 32. I am a survivor and you can be too. I have suffered a lot of side effects over the years. Nausea was/is my bioggest foe.

We should talk sometime. I am married and have 3 children. There IS life after cnacer.


Hillsboro, OH

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