Post-operative loss of appetite.

Started by

My mother (age 72) recently (3 days ago) was released from the hospital after a 5-week and three day stay. She was initially hospitalized for a colon-resection due to acute diverticulitis. Five days post-op she began vomiting and had severe abdominal pain. Tests were done but nothing was found to be out of the ordinary. Her doctor however did not feel comfortable releasing her. Three weeks to the day of her original surgery she had developed peritonitis and went through a second surgery. During this second surgery the doctor decided to also do an ostomy and she now has a colostomy. She was given morphine for pain and a barage of antibiotics and fluids including a feeding solution through a central IV. This entire ordeal has left her 20 pounds lighter. It has now been 4 days since she was completely removed from all of her medications, antibiotics, and fluids via an IV. She still says she does not have an appetite and won't eat. The doctor says this is normal but I fear she will continue to lose weight and develop other issues. I have always been weary of doctors and maybe I am just being paranoid. Does anyone have any related stories? How long is "normal" before her apetite returns and she begins eating again?


I went through a similar situation with my mother.. What I would like to say first of all is that you are awesome. Your attentiveness has probably made an enormous difference for your mom. You have both been through a serious time and the ordeal of hospitalization for DV with complications has taken its toll.

I can tell you in my experience, there is no way to gauge when your mom's appetite will return, and issues with the colostomy may be part of why she doesn't want to eat. what I did with my mom was put together "tiny tastes" of different things on a pretty plate I brought from home. First plate was different flavours of jello - pudding - ice cream.....then moved on to savory, etc... it will also get her engaged in talking and hopefully laughing about the hospital hors d'evrves

Let your mom's main nurse (or better, if you can talk to the dietician) know in advance. It is important, that the only food you do give her was prepared by the hospital and you engage the hospital staff so that they know what you are doing....

I wish you and your mom all the best

My husband had lung cancer surgey a month ago.H
e never eat mucg in the hospital. He didn' need chemo.
Now at home his apetite is lost.
He lost 10 pounds . Every day I try different food,
nothing helps.
Anybody that have had this problem ,can help
will be apreciate.

Hi all, Mom had a huge weight loss after hip surgery but very slowly got her weight back with lots of cajoling. Now that she just broke her pelvis, it's starting all over again and her doctor said to use Ensure. We tried that last time and it didn't help much. My brother, who studied nutrition in school, suggested I make the shakes myself. So now we blend bananas, strawberries, yogurt, a little honey, cranberry juice, green tea, and a scoop of protein powder. Mom loves them. And her appetite for food seems to be coming back much quicker this time. Can't say for sure it's the shakes, but it may be worth a try.
I had hip replacement almost 10 months ago and still have no appetite. I'm 73 years old and am skin and bones. The only time I felt good and had an appetite was when my doctor put me on 3 weeks of Prednisone. I'm also deserate to find a solution.
You need to load each meal with protein. Things like chilli con carne, salmon frittata are good. Every ingredient you use, look for the one with the highest level of protein. Egg whites are good, and little meringues don't take up much room. Add whey powder and/or almond meal to meals. I eat soft serve cones and jersey caramels between meals for the calories and energy.

But you need some light exercise to build on the protein. I have a set of light exercises I actually do in bed virtually every day. I lost 63 lbs after a major op and have so far managed to regain 7lbs. Hard work, but can be done.
Forgot to say, that when you can't eat much, you have to eat often; therefore, six small meals per day are better than three. Juice fruits and vegies to get vitamins.
I skipped the Ensure - I didn't like the taste and neither did Mom. She was on Hospice at home then and they didn't recommend it. We made shakes for Mom with fresh fruits - bananas, strawberries, wheat germ and whole milk. She loved those shakes.

Good luck to you and your mom.
I'm a 55 year old female that had emergency surgery 6 wedks ago for Perforated Diverticulitis. I had a 7 day hospital stay and lost almost 20 pounds due to the severity of the infection. I've had no appetite since waking up after surgery. I force myself to eat and do it slowly. My surgeon told me this is the time to eat anything I want so I can get the weight back, but that's hard with no appetite. I've gained a few pounds and just hope eating can be enjoyable again. Good luck to you. Your mum is lucky to have you.
My husband recently had part of his foot amputated and he will not eat. He holds food in his mouth and then spits it out. He has lost 34 pounds in 4 weeks and I am afraid that he will waste away to nothing. This was a man that played football in high school and college and tennis. Post surgery he weighed 240 pounds. Since surgery he weighs 194. He will drink juice and water and that's it. I am worried
Brendalyn, have you asked his healthcare team about this? For a former jock to lose part of his foot would be especially devastating, he may benefit from an antidepressant. In the meantime try to boost his juice by making up smoothies with protein powders or other added calories, there are many recipes out there.

Keep the conversation going (or start a new one)

Please enter your Comment

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support