Obesity is a health issue affecting billions of people worldwide. Over 650 million adults, 340 million adolescents, and 39 million children suffer from this complex disorder.

Fortunately, modern medical technology has paved new ways to combat this health problem. One such solution is bariatric surgery, a medical procedure performed on the patient’s stomach.

Thousands go through bariatric operations to rid themselves of that extra weight. However, although efficacious, there’s still a slight chance of the patient gaining weight post-surgery.

So, in this post, we’ll discuss all you need to know about obesity, weight gain, and bariatric surgery. We’ll also throw in some dietary tips for maintaining weight loss after bariatric surgery.

Obesity, Bariatric Surgery, and Weight Loss

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 42% of American adults suffer from obesity. It means that in every five people in the country, two or more are obese.

Given this, it’s no surprise that over 200,000 Americans undergo bariatric surgery annually. After all, it’s one of the most effective weight loss options to date, with a 90% success rate.

Is Weight Loss After Bariatric Surgery Permanent?

In general, people who underwent weight loss procedures can expect 30% to 50% weight loss after a few months post-surgery. And in the first year, they lose up to 77% of their initial weight.

Moreover, studies have shown that the effects of these types of surgeries can last for years. Some patients even maintain a 50% to 60% weight loss ten or more years after the procedure.

However, this isn’t always the case for everyone. A small percentage of bariatric patients can also gain back a significant portion of their body mass post-bariatric.

Gaining Weight After Bariatric Surgery

Regaining their lost weight is one of the most feared scenarios for bariatric surgery patients. No one wants to go under the knife over and over to lose weight—and it isn’t cheap!

an Obesity patient
 with her doctor

As your doctors may have already explained, you won’t have to worry about gaining weight the first few months post-bariatric. But what happens two or ten years later?

Unfortunately, even though you’ve gone through surgery, gaining weight is still a distinct possibility. And you might regain the pounds you’ve lost if you’re not careful.

After the rapid weight loss, people with underlying issues typically gain weight as early as 12 to 24 months post-surgery. Though, most only regain around 20% to 25% of their initial weight.

Physicians attribute this occurrence to several factors. It includes psychological, physiological, and anatomical factors contributing to weight gain.

However, experts also point to the patient’s lack of adherence to their surgeon’s dietary guidelines as a primary culprit.

Factors Affecting Weight Loss After Bariatric Surgery

Most patients who underwent bariatric surgery are excited about the new possibilities of living without weight issues. As such, experiencing weight gain can be difficult and disheartening.

Identifying the aspects affecting weight gain is vital to maintain your BMI. So, here are some of the primary contributing factors for weight loss and weight gain after a bariatric procedure:

Anatomical Factors

Factors concerning anatomy refer to the surgical issues associated with bariatric procedures. For instance, your doctor will make a small pouch out of your stomach tissue (about the size of an egg) during gastric bypass surgery.

This surgery aims to bypass the rest of the stomach and minimize the patient’s food intake. It changes how your intestines and stomach handle food, which results in significant weight loss.

However, the procedure comes with a slight chance of stomach pouch stretching back to the size of your original stomach size. This issue can render the method ineffective over time, with studies showing considerable weight gain for patients having enlarged stomach pouches.

Physiological Factors

Age and underlying medical conditions also play a role in the success of bariatric surgeries. People with hypertension and those aged 60 years and above are prone to weight gain two years after the surgery.

Genetic factors can also hinder the weight loss of the patient. People with a specific type of monogenic obesity tend to have a lower weight loss percentage than other patients.

Furthermore, studies have shown that post-menopausal women are less likely to experience the same weight loss as younger women. They attribute this problem to the metabolic and hormonal changes that occur during menopause.

Behavioral Factors

an obesity woman woring out

As mentioned above, the patient’s ability to stick to their doctor’s after-care instructions is crucial to the success of a weight loss surgery. Years of unhealthy habits can be challenging to break.

These behavioral issues include chaotic eating practices or having no regular eating patterns. Skipping meals and long intervals between meals may also result in the same problems, as they promote more food intake.

Experts discourage eating in small portions for extended periods, called grazing. To achieve the best results, bariatric patients should eat regular meal sizes with healthy nutrient contents and follow a meal plan.

Tips to Maintain Weight Loss After Bariatric Surgery

A few months or years after your surgery, the weight loss will eventually slow or stop altogether. As such, it’s vital to know the appropriate steps to take when it happens.

Most patients will regain a portion of their initial weight after one to three years. During this period, the stomach will begin to relax and stretch, allowing more room for food.

It’s also the time when patient motivation dips. Thus, their tendency to stick to a healthy diet and fitness routine may wane and result in significant weight gain.

Nevertheless, there are effective ways to combat regaining the pounds you’ve worked so hard to lose. Follow these tips to maintain your weight loss after your bariatric procedure:

Recognize the Issue

Knowing and understanding your condition can significantly help. Understand that obesity is a chronic disorder, increasing your risk for several life-threatening diseases.

Talk to your doctors about your concerns, however small they may seem at first.

Moreover, don’t get embarrassed or afraid if you start gaining weight. Reach out to your bariatric team so they can diagnose your situation and intervene if necessary.

Effective Diet Plan

A healthy and consistent diet plan is vital to maintaining weight loss after bariatric surgery. As such, always follow your doctor’s recommended nutritional diet plan as diligently as possible.

a healthy diet

Your calorie intake is one aspect that you should monitor carefully. Studies have shown that lower calorie consumption plays a crucial role in weight loss for bariatric patients.

Typically, doctors recommend consuming 900 to 1000 calories and an average of 65 to 75 protein intake per day. This value, however, may change from patient to patient depending on several factors.

Incorporate Daily Exercise

A healthy eating habit is only one side of your journey toward a healthier body. Incorporating physical activities into your daily routine is also critical in sustaining weight loss post-surgery.

However, you should talk to your surgeon about exercising to create an effective workout plan. Although, most physicians would recommend a daily 30-minute exercise routine.

You may find sticking consistently to a training plan tough. So, look for exercises that excite you or find exercise buddies to keep you motivated.

Reduce Stress Levels

One of the issues that patients encounter post-surgery is stress and anxiety. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed about the outcome or the direction of your weight loss journey.

It’s worth noting that chronic stress and anxiety can lead your body to produce more cortisol. And higher cortisol levels will eventually lead to weight gain by stimulating your body’s fat and carbohydrate metabolism.

Keeping your head level may seem challenging on some days. Practicing relaxation techniques, such as yoga, meditation, or deep breathing, would be helpful.

Ensure to add a regular sleep schedule to your health and fitness plan. Give your body enough rest to recover from the drastic changes in your lifestyle.

Diet Guidelines to Maintain Weight After Bariatric Surgery

The goal is to ensure you meet enough nutrition without compromising your body’s ability to maintain weight. Though, every diet plan varies depending on the patient’s condition.

A few days after your surgery, your surgeon will only allow you to consume liquids. This meal plan will progressively change until you’re allowed to consume regular meals.

That said, if you want to maintain your weight, you should prioritize eating lean protein, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, fruits, and vegetables.

Try avoiding food containing high amounts of sugar, calories, and fat. Experts also highlight the importance of staying hydrated by drinking at least 8 cups of water every day.

Final Thoughts

Bariatric surgery is currently one of the most effective ways to resolve weight issues. It provides people with severe obesity a chance to restart and live healthier lives.

It’s essential to follow your physician’s dietary recommendations after your surgery if you want to maintain your current BMI. Take care of not only your body but your mind as well.


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