Why do some people regain weight after bariatric surgery?
Bariatric surgery is a lifesaving surgery for those suffering from life-threatening conditions due to obesity. There are 2 ways Bariatric surgery achieves weight loss, i.e. by reducing calories consumed or minimizing the absorption of calories or both (depending on the type of surgery). The former is known as restrictive surgeries, where the stomach size is reduced. The latter are malabsorption surgeries, which force lower calorie absorption. There are other procedures where the ghrelin production (the ‘hunger hormone) is reduced. Bariatric surgery help patients inculcate good dietary habits, and they re-learn how/what/when to eat. The surgery also puts them in the path of regular exercise.
Understanding weight regain after bariatric surgery
If bariatric surgery offers all the benefits mentioned above, why do some people regain weight? Typically, after 12 to 18 months, some patients may see a weight gain due to the following reasons:-
Poor dietary habits
The topmost for regaining weight after weight loss is falling back to old eating habits. Below are the top three reasons for poor dietary habits after Bariatric Surgery are:-
Rationalizing behaviour: As with any bad habit, the patient starts rationalizing unhealthy behaviour after a while. Initially, it starts with “It’s Ok” for small things, slowly seeping into more unhealthy habits. For example, we might follow the strict diet initially and slowly start making concessions to it and later start falling back to pre-surgery unhealthy eating habits. This may not happen all of a sudden, but this is the No:1 reason for regaining weight after bariatric surgery.
Taking Comfort in food:- For many, food is a primary go-to choice to cope with emotions. For most, comfort food is a way to deal with a bad day, anxiety, and stress. Late-night binge-eating junk food is a habit more associated with emotions than hunger.
Too tired to prepare food:- If the person is having a busy life or too stressed out at work, they choose to eat whatever is handy. Usually, such food is counterproductive to weight loss.
It does not mean every bariatric surgery patient will regain weight. Those who have been able to maintain weight have adopted good habits like:-
- Food journaling
- Attending regular support group meetings,
- Get friends and family to support your journey.
During the pre-operative psychological counselling, understand your relationship with food. Once the surgery is done, the post-operative dietitian consultation is crucial in keeping bad dietary habits at bay.
Bariatric surgery procedural issues
Under the umbrella of bariatric surgery, there are a variety of surgeries. Each surgery has its benefits and limitations. During the pre-surgical consultation, you and your surgeon should be able to derive the best procedure which suits your weight loss journey.
If the patient develops a fistula (an abnormal opening) after gastric bypass, it allows the food to enter the bigger stomach. As a result, the sleeve or pouch could get stretched.
Reduced interest in exercise
The weight loss after bariatric surgery can be maintained only with proper exercise and a prescribed diet plan. But most of the weight loss aspirants start losing interest in exercise. The main reasons for stopping exercise are:-
Monotonous routine: They may try the same exercise routine for a long time which becomes monotonous, so they lose interest.
Busy schedule:- One of the main reasons to put off working out is lack of time. But remember that bariatric surgery is just one stop. You have to be vigilant about exercise, the same way you were before the surgery.
Complacence: Once the patient sees their new fit body and gets compliments from around, they become complacent. The initial high of lost weight makes them lose focus on long term vision. So you can enjoy all those compliments and self-confidence only if you keep up with the routine.
Health risks increase if you regain weight
You observe rapid and substantial weight loss as soon as the surgery is over. You will also start to notice that Diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, sleep apnea and other medical issues linked to obesity may disappear. In addition, the risk of heart disease, stroke, premature death and many forms of cancer is reduced. Hence, it is evident that if weight regain happens, the risks of developing all the above mentioned health complications again increase. Therefore, the health risks due to regaining the weight are in direct proportion to the amount of regained weight.
If the patient can maintain 50% of weight lost for five years after the initial procedure was performed, then it is regarded as a successful case of bariatric surgery. However, Dr V.Pareek says that “It is very rare for the patient to gain back all the lost weight”.
Be aware that obesity is a chronic, multifaceted condition, and a dedicated bariatric team is your friend to stay fit. Don’t be silent if you feel you are gaining your weight back. Contact Dr V.Pareek and his expert team at the earliest and get the necessary guidance to control the weight regain. Dr V.Pareek wants you to succeed; hence schedule regular visits with our highly experienced team. Follow the diet plan to eat regularly in smaller amounts. Reach us today at +91 91-777-77715 so that we can best help you.