Many patients who undergo bariatric surgery are likely to encounter long-term weight regain, according to recent research.
CUPERTINO, CALIFORNIA | NOW THEN DIGITAL — The obesity epidemic in the United States keeps getting worse, as currently, more than two-thirds of Americans are overweight, and more than one-third are considered obese.
Worldwide, the number of obese adults is expected to number 1.2 billion by 2030. Obesity is a severe disorder that produces several comorbidities and diminishes the quality of life.
Many people turn to bariatric surgery after unsuccessfully trying to lose weight through diet and exercise. Obesity is a disease, as many patients who fail to lose weight have significant metabolic problems that only bariatric surgery can help resolve.
Gastric sleeve and laparoscopic gastric bypass are the two most popular surgical procedures to help people lose weight. Sleeve gastrectomy only has a restrictive component that reduces food intake by a significant amount.
More severely obese people often opt for gastric bypass or a more drastic procedure called duodenal switch or its modified version, SADI-S, which alters the gastrointestinal tract and creates a small gastric pouch to restrict food consumption.
The average excess weight loss for gastric bypass patients is 65%, meaning that a person who is 100 pounds overweight will lose 70 pounds. Those who are heavier often lose more.
Regaining Weight After Bariatric Surgery Usually Occurs
Most patients experience some long-term weight regain after bariatric surgery. About half eventually regain some weight after hitting their low point, usually about 18 months after their weight loss surgery. However, most people keep at least 50% of their excess weight off after ten years.
If you have 100 pounds of excess weight and lose 70% of that, your average weight regain is eight pounds. You’re still at a healthy weight.
However, not everyone successfully achieves significant weight loss following bariatric surgery. Regaining weight can decrease the procedure’s efficiency in mitigating diseases associated with morbid obesity.
Reasons for Weight Regain After Bariatric Surgery
Weight loss surgery is only a tool to achieve significant weight loss. Long-term success depends on patients committing to various changes, including adopting new eating habits and committing to more effective physical activity.
However, bariatric surgery patients may be at risk for insufficient weight loss or regain due to several factors. These include:
- Pre-surgery weight. Dropping pounds weight before surgery will set the stage for long-term weight maintenance and make weight regain less likely.
- Alcohol or drug abuse. Substance abuse makes it more likely that you will revert to old habits. Be honest in your pre-surgery evaluation, as this topic will come up. Sometimes patients even began to abuse alcohol or drugs after surgery, replacing their food addiction with another.
- Lack of a solid support system. If you don’t have family or friends that provide emotional support or have no access to nutritional counseling, you’re more apt to lose significantly less weight.
- Your post-surgery psychological state. Mental health issues like food urges or experiencing an unstable psychological state after surgery can lead to eating too many calories and decreased feelings of well-being.
How Can I Avoid Regaining Weight?
Fortunately, most bariatric patients respond well by reminding themselves why they committed to losing weight and restarting their lives. Only a small percentage of patients need revisional bariatric surgery because their metabolism doesn’t respond sufficiently to their altered digestive system.
Realizing that weight plateaus will occur and realizing that you may have fallen back on old eating habits is part of the process. Take the following steps to give yourself the best chance at successful weight loss and avoid weight regain.
Follow Instructions From Your Bariatric Surgeon
Losing as much weight as possible prior to your procedure will increase your chances of maintaining your weight ten years after surgery.
Starting the process of losing weight and learning healthy eating habits before surgery sets the stage, especially for those patients with a BMI over 40. You need to do the work. Follow your doctor’s advice for the rest of your life.
Address Eating Disorders and Substance Abuse Problems
Before surgery, you’ll undergo a psychological evaluation so your bariatric surgeon can approve the procedure. If you use tobacco products, you’ll need to stop smoking.
Addressing these problems is essential as addictions can complicate recovery, while an unaddressed binge eating disorder can significantly affect weight loss and may lead to weight gain if you start to eat junk food. Be honest with your doctors and work with them to get these problems under control.
Make Physical Activity a Priority
One of the many problems obese patients have is a sedentary lifestyle. Start increasing your physical activity once your bariatric surgeon clears you. The more you move, the more calories you burn, and the more likely you will achieve permanent weight loss and prevent weight regain. Incorporate cardiovascular and resistance exercises to build muscle mass, an essential component of a healthy metabolism.
The more muscle mass you have, the easier it will be to avoid weight gain. Try for some sort of activity every day and make your exercise goals attainable.
Start slowly by walking and increase the time and intensity as you become more physically fit. When you hit a weight plateau, add another activity to help move the scale downward.
Get Bariatric Nutritional Counseling
Everyone slips up and reverts to old eating habits occasionally, but working with a bariatric dietician can help remind you of your post-surgical dietary guidelines and help put you back on track to healthy eating habits and the road to long-term success.
Follow up with your dietician periodically, especially if you start to regain the weight. Your dietician, along with your doctor, can help you address food urges or your mental health if you begin to experience negative feelings. Those who don’t address these issues will start to eat too many calories and experience weight gain.
Prevent Weight Regain With a Pouch Reset
Experts are divided on whether you can stretch your stomach pouch after gastric bypass surgery. Your smaller stomach will continue to expand and contract as it did before surgery. Many patients think their gastric pouch size has increased when, instead, they have fallen off healthy habits when selecting foods, back to consuming more food than necessary.
A pouch reset mimics the original post-surgery diet you followed in the postoperative period following your procedure but at an accelerated pace. It starts with consuming clear liquids and progresses through all food stages, including reintroducing solid foods.
The pouch reset gives you a chance to avoid larger meals and recommit to portion control and other lifestyle modifications required to maintain a healthy weight.
Participate in a Good Bariatric Support Group
Patients actively participating in weight loss surgery support groups have a body mass index (BMI) about 10% lower than those who do not. Regularly speaking with others who have undergone bariatric surgery will help you address emotional issues surrounding food and body image and provide the support you need to get through setbacks.
Most patients can stop regain after gastric bypass surgery or another procedure. The most common reason for weight gain after bariatric surgery is physical inactivity and not committing to your new lifestyle. Long-term success is possible. You just have to remember to work at it for the rest of your life.
Author’s BIO: Lori Wade is a journalist from Louisville. She is a content writer who has experience in small editions. Lori is currently engaged in news and conceptual articles on the health and beauty industry. You can find her on LinkedIn. Hope you appreciate Lori’s useful insights!
You’re reading nowthendigital.com — which breaks the news about Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and the rest of the world, day after day. Be sure to check out our homepage for all the latest news, and follow NOW THEN DIGITAL on YouTube, Google, Web Stories, Google News, Medium, LinkedIn, Twitter, Reddit, Pinterest, Linktr, Buy Me a Coffee, and Flipboard to stay in the loop.