What Effects Can a Patient Expect After a Whipple Procedure?

After a Whipple procedure, patients often suffer severe complications, such as the occurrence of false channels, leakage from the area of bowel reconnection, bleeding, infections, or inability of the stomach to empty itself properly after meals, states WebMD. Up to one week of hospitalization is necessary postsurgery. Patients also need to take pain medications while recovering.

Following a Whipple procedure, it generally takes two to three months for the restructured digestive tract to recover completely, notes WebMD. Diarrhea commonly occurs during this period. Patients initially eat limited amounts of easily digestible foods and sometimes take pancreatic enzymes for better digestion.

Many patients lose weight after a Whipple procedure, according to WebMD. Some patients develop diabetes if the surgery removed numerous insulin-producing cells from the pancreas, but those with normal blood sugar prior to the surgery are at low risk.

In general, patients who go through the Whipple procedure have a 20 to 25 percent chance of surviving for up to five years, explains WebMD. However, in some cases, some of the cancer cells have already affected other areas of the body despite successful removal of the visible tumor. Node-negative patients whose cancer cells have not affected nearby lymph nodes have higher chances of surviving for up to five years. Both node-negative and node-positive patients often undergo chemotherapy or radiation after the Whipple procedure.