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Can You Gain Weight After Gastric Sleeve Surgery?

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    Last Updated on April 1, 2024

    Understanding Weight Regain After Gastric Sleeve Surgery: Causes, Prevention, and Solutions


    The #1 fear our patients have is about weight regain after sleeve surgery. 

    Our team gets it. 

    You’re thinking: “What if this doesn’t work? After the physical, emotional and financial investment, what if it doesn’t stick? What’s my plan B?” 

    So let’s get to it. Is it possible to gain weight after gastric sleeve surgery? 

    But, it’s crucial to know, two things:

    1. With an excellent aftercare program, significant weight regain after sleeve surgery should be uncommon
    2. If regain occurs, it’s generally not because the surgery no longer works, it’s because a relapse has happened.  

    Let’s unpack this to put your fears to rest, and to explain how at The Sleeve Clinic we work to prevent significant weight regain from ever happening. 

    Key Takeaways – Gastric Sleeve Weight Gain

    1. Data-Backed Reality: Medical research shows that significant weight regain should be uncommon with a good aftercare program.
    2. Know the Terminology: Understanding the difference between a weight loss plateau and weight regain is crucial.
    3. Causes to Watch For: Weight regain can be due to surgical errors, psychological factors, or poor lifestyle choices.
    4. Role of Aftercare: A comprehensive aftercare program can significantly reduce the chances of weight regain.
    5. Personal Commitment: Despite the surgery, 20% of the battle still lies in personal commitment and psychological well-being.

    Weight regain after gastric sleeve surgery is a concern that looms large in the minds of patients who have undergone this life-altering procedure.

    While the surgery itself is a powerful tool for significant weight loss, it’s not a magic bullet that guarantees lifelong results without effort.

    Understanding the potential for weight regain, its causes, and how to prevent it is crucial for anyone considering this surgical option or those who have already had it.

    This article aims to demystify the subject, providing you with data-backed insights, expert opinions, and actionable advice to help you maintain a healthier, more sustainable weight long after your surgery.

    Armed with this knowledge, you can approach your weight loss journey with greater confidence and a clearer roadmap for long-term success.

    What Are the Chances of Weight Regain After Sleeve Surgery?

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    If you’re contemplating the option of gastric sleeve surgery, it’s imperative to approach this life-altering decision fully informed. So, let’s delve into the facts and figures.

    Let’s take a look at the data. 

    Medical research has conclusively shown that gastric sleeve surgery is safe and highly effective. In fact, weight loss surgery is far and away the most effective way to lose a life changing, sustainable amount of weight. 

    Not only do patients lose 60-70% of excess weight within 12 to 18 months of surgery (approximately 25-35% of your total body weight), but diabetes remits in 75% of patients and obstructive sleep apnea resolves entirely. 

    Now, let’s address the elephant in the room: the possibility of weight regain post-surgery.

    See also  How Much Time Off Work Do I Need for Gastric Sleeve Surgery?

    By understanding these aspects, you’re not just making an informed decision but also setting the stage for long-term success in your weight loss journey.

    Weight Loss Plateau vs. Weight Regain: Know the Difference

    It’s essential that we distinguish between two commonly misinterpreted phrases: a weight loss plateau and weight regain. 

    A weight loss plateau is a normal phase every sleeve patient will encounter on their weight loss journey. It’s a very temporary standstill period where the scale doesn’t budge. The keyword here is ‘temporary.’ Typically, these stalls or plateaus only occur for a week or two, but the overall monthly trend shows patients are losing weight. This is one of the reasons we get our patients in our five year aftercare program to track their monthly progress. 

    On the other hand, weight regain is characterized by a consistent upswing on the scale, leading to an accumulation of pounds previously shed. It’s not a stagnation or temporary blip, it’s true weight regain. 

    It’s critical to understand the difference between the two. While plateaus are an almost universal experience that can be managed, weight regain usually signals what we call a ‘relapse’ – a deeper psychological misalignment of coping strategies and impulsive actions.(more on this below). 

    Also read: Bariatric surgery 101 – Everything you need to know

    Common Causes of Weight Regain After Gastric Sleeve Surgery

    In the realm of weight regain following sleeve surgery, the foremost factor to consider is the proper execution of the initial procedure. Weight regain frequently arises from a poorly constructed sleeve, often from an excessively large sleeve size and the presence of residual, stretchy stomach tissue called the fundus.

    To avert this issue, it is essential to choose a highly experienced surgeon for the initial procedure. The challenge isn’t because the sleeve has stretched, it’s because it was poorly constructed in the first place.

    Our first hand experience at The Sleeve Clinic is supported by the medical literature:  weight regain after sleeve surgery isn’t due to surgical failure or what some might think of as “sleeve stretching.”

    The first thing you need to do is make sure the  sleeve was performed properly. All too often we are sent patients who’ve regained their weight due to an improperly constructed sleeve – too big with a residual stretchy part of the stomach called fundus.

    Make sure you pick an experienced surgeon to avoid this. It’s not because the sleeve has stretched, it’s because it was poorly constructed in the first place.

    Before sleeve surgery, weight loss and dieting is 100% on you – you’re battling against your body and biology. After sleeve surgery the dynamic changes.

    Surgery significantly reduces hunger and cravings (quieting that tricky hunger hormone ghrelin), lifting about 80% of the battle off your shoulders, but leaving 20% to your mind and personal commitment. 

    See also  The Ultimate Guide to Optifast for Sleeve Surgery

    Gastric sleeve surgery is a powerful tool for weight loss, but remember: no surgery in the world can physically prevent someone from running away to the bathroom to pour chocolate syrup in their mouth. Read: It’s possible to experience a relapse of old habits. 

    The causes of weight regain after weight loss surgery are: 

    • Dysregulated (loss of control eating) or maladaptive eating: this might look like overindulging beyond surgical recommendations 
    • Comorbid psychiatric disorders (i.e. depression): mental health challenges can manifest in the form of overeating or unhealthy dietary choices . 

    Drawing a parallel to addiction recovery, weight regain is not a failure, but a relapse. 

    Much like how an individual in recovery from alcohol addiction might have moments of setback, so too might a patient post-surgery. The crucial aspect is not to view it as a failure, but as a signal – a sign to reevaluate, seek support and realign yourself with your post-operative care plan. 

    Your new sleeve stomach, combined with a highly supportive and effective aftercare program, is the number one way to successfully lose a substantial amount of weight once and for all. 

    But, it’s important to know, not all clinic aftercare programs are created equal.

    YouTube video

    The Importance of Aftercare Programs in Preventing Weight Regain

    At The Sleeve Clinic we’ve taken deliberate steps to preemptively address and counteract any potential for weight regain post-sleeve surgery. 

    Our unparalleled five year aftercare program was designed by my own experience having sleeve surgery. You can learn more about my story as a sleeve surgeon who’s had sleeve surgery below:

    YouTube video

    Ongoing Support and Guidance

    Comprehensive aftercare programs like the one offered at The Sleeve Clinic recognize that weight loss is a multifaceted process. They provide a structured framework for continued support, education, and guidance after surgery. 

    This support isn’t limited to a few weeks or months; it extends over several years, reflecting the long-term nature of the weight loss journey.

    Nutritional Education

    One crucial aspect of aftercare is nutritional education. This includes information on portion sizes, protein intake, and other nutritional tips. 

    Proper nutrition is vital not only for shedding excess weight but also for maintaining overall health and preventing weight gain.

    Behavioural and Psychological Support

    Weight loss isn’t just about physical changes; it’s also about rewiring your mind and addressing the behavioural aspects of eating. 

    Aftercare programs such as the one at The Sleeve Clinic often include behavioral support. These services can help you identify and cope with emotional triggers for overeating, develop healthier habits, and build a positive relationship with food.

    Monitor Health and Track Progress

    Regular check-ups and health monitoring are integral components of aftercare. At The Sleeve Clinic we use virtual tools and tracking to closely montior your progress. 

    See also  What I want you to know about our patients.

    This proactive approach ensures that any challenges, whether related to nutrition, exercise, or other factors, are addressed promptly.

    A Community of Support

    Comprehensive aftercare also provides patients with a sense of community and belonging. Sharing experiences, challenges, and successes with others who have undergone similar journeys can be immensely empowering. 

    Peer support groups within these programs foster a sense of camaraderie and motivate individuals to stay committed to their goals.

    A Personalized Approach

    One size doesn’t fit all in bariatric aftercare. Each patient’s journey is unique, and your needs may vary. A robust aftercare program recognizes this diversity and offers a personalized approach. Here at The Sleeve Clinic you aren’t a patient file, you’re like family. We get to know your specific needs and tailor our programs and support to you. 

    Sustained Motivation and Accountability

    Perhaps one of the most significant benefits of comprehensive aftercare is the motivation and accountability it provides. Weight loss can be challenging, with moments of plateau and frustration. 

    Knowing that there is ongoing support and a team of experts dedicated to their success can help you stay on track and remain motivated, further lowering your chances of regaining weight. 

    Conclusion – Gastric Sleeve Weight Regain

    Weight loss post-sleeve surgery is more than just numbers on a scale – it’s about recognizing the balance between your new sleeve stomach and the multi-layered dynamics that exist between us and our relationship with food.  

    While it’s important to recognize that weight regain is not impossible, possible, it should be uncommon and temporary when there is excellent aftercare in place. the bottom line is that sleeve surgery is currently the most effective tool to treat obesity. 

    Remember, when a relapse occurs, it isn’t the end; it’s merely a sign that adjustments may be needed.

    If you’re thinking about sleeve surgery, here’s some next steps to take:

    Please note that the information provided in this article is for general informational purposes only and should not replace medical advice. It is always recommended to consult with a qualified healthcare professional for personalized guidance regarding weight loss surgery. If you are considering sleeve surgery you can book a consultation with our top rated sleeve surgeon at our Toronto weight loss clinic here: Contact usWe also serve other locations such as St Johns, NLVancouver BCNiagara, ON, Saskatchewan, Edmonton, Manitoba, Calgary Alberta , Halifax, Nova Scotia.


    World Journal of Gastrointestional Surgery – Five year outcomes of laproscopic sleeve gastronomy 

    Current Diabetes Reports – Weight regain after bariatric surgery

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    As one of the leading weight loss surgeons in Canada, Dr Gmora has gained a reputation for being a master of his surgical craft and producing outstanding weight loss results.