You’re getting gastric sleeve surgery in order to lose weight, improve your health, and live your best life. But after you’ve put in the work to lose weight, can you regain those pounds? And how easy is it to do so? The truth is that, yes, you absolutely can regain weight you lose. Understanding how the procedure works—and what your role is in your newly sleeved life—can help prevent that situation.
Does weight gain happen when the sleeve stretches out?
It depends on who does your gastric sleeve. If it’s me, you won’t experience any meaningful stretching of your sleeve. A well-crafted sleeve will continue to provide the restriction you need to feel full on a fraction of the calories you consumed before surgery. I’ve perfected my technique over tens of thousands of surgeries, settling on what I consider an ideal bougie size to create a stomach that simply can’t stretch out anywhere close to the size it was before. Will you be able to eat more than you did in the weeks right after surgery? Yes, as that’s a unique time in the life of your sleeve. But if you’re not feeling any restriction with your sleeve months or years down the road—meaning, you can eat quantities similar to before your sleeve procedure—it’s a reason to be suspicious of your surgeon’s technique.
Do I have to eat a severely low-calorie diet in order to prevent regain?
No. In the weeks right after gastric sleeve, you’ll be at maximum restriction because tissues in an around your digestive system will still be a bit swollen. As a result, you’ll only be able to eat about 600 to 800 calories a day. But over the first year, that intake will gradually increase to around 1,000 to 1,500 calories. Each patient is different, but eating in that general caloric range while also incorporating exercise should allow you to lose weight and/or keep off the weight you’ve already lost.
Can I count on “bad” foods making me sick—and, thus, avoiding weight gain?
Some people believe that gastric sleeve surgery will make them sick to their stomachs when they consume unhealthy carbs and fats. That’s generally not the case, though. Other types of bariatric surgery often produce what we call “dumping syndrome,” which includes symptoms like heart palpitations, weakness, sweating, dizziness, and nausea or vomiting. And it doesn’t just happen when patients consume “bad” foods; it can happen with almost any food. Doesn’t that sound like a lovely way to go through life? Ah, no. The good news-bad news about gastric sleeve is that most people don’t experience ill effects from less-than-healthy foods. I think that’s a good thing. We teach you how to eat in order to achieve your goals, plus having a drastically smaller stomach is a built-on “stop” button. But being a sleeve patient also means you can have a slice of cake on your birthday if you want to. And isn’t the point of losing weight so you can enjoy life and all of its wonderful moments?
So how many of the calories I eat will actually be absorbed?
All of them. Again, this goes back to the difference in bariatric surgeries. With gastric sleeve, we leave your intestines alone. Gastric bypass surgery, for example, includes a rerouting of your intestines, which means that some food bypasses the stomach and enters the small intestine largely undigested. Sure, this saves you from absorbing some calories, but this rapid, unnatural process opens you up to a variety of nasty side effects that can last a lifetime. One of the things I love about gastric sleeve is that it leaves as much of your anatomy alone as possible while creating a powerful, physical solution to help patients lose a lot of weight.
The bottom line is that gastric sleeve is a powerful tool for weight loss, but it also requires patients to work at losing weight and then maintaining that weight loss. At Endobariatric, we’re committed to walking alongside you every step of the way!
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“Changing lives…one sleeve at a time”