Reasons You’re Not Losing Weight After Gastric Sleeve Surgery

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Bariatric procedures are some of the most effective weight loss interventions around. One of these procedures, the gastric sleeve, provides a lower cost alternative to gastric bypass Tijuana while achieving similar results.

However, some patients report losing less weight than they would like. It’s very rare for patients to not lose weight after getting the surgery, but sometimes the results aren’t exactly what you expected. This article aims to explain why you’re not losing weight after a gastric sleeve.

Why Am I Not Losing Weight After My Gastric Sleeve?

The gastric sleeve (otherwise called sleeve gastrectomy) is a procedure in which 80% of the stomach is removed in order to do two things. First, the patient will be able to only eat about ⅕ of what they used to eat in one sitting, requiring them to be a lot more mindful and purposeful in their eating. Second, the parts of the stomach that were removed produce ghrelin, which is a hormone that signals hunger to the brain. Ghrelin production is not eliminated entirely, but it is reduced significantly by removing those parts of the stomach.

Unlike the gastric bypass, the gastric sleeve is not malabsorptive; instead, it aims to deal primarily with hunger and food consumption. This procedure is highly effective, with patients expecting to lose between 50-60% of their excess weight in one year after surgery.

But not all patients lose this much weight. Some patients plateau very early, whereas others lose weight at a much slower rate. What’s going on here? Why have some patients stopped losing weight after the gastric sleeve?

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Reason #1: A Normal Plateau

Patients are expected to see their weight loss rates plateau between 3 to 6 months after surgery, then permanently slow down until they reach a stable weight. This is normal and should be planned for.

Just because you plateau 50 pounds above your goal weight is NOT a cause for concern! Instead, you should see your doctor and start making preparations to update your diet and exercise regimen.

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Plateaus will continue during your weight loss journey, and sometimes plateaus can look like slight weight gain.

However, this might not be what you’re experiencing.

Reason #2: Caloric Intake

If your doctor notes that you should be losing weight at a certain rate (say 2 pounds per week) but you’re losing weight much more slowly, then your caloric intake is likely the issue.

This is uncommon in the first 2 months, but it’s often implicated in plateaus (as well as later weight gain). Why? Because after surgery, your body is still healing. After this healing process, you’re able to tolerate a lot more of the same foods that you used to eat. Over time, it’s possible for you to return to similar eating habits that you once had if you’re not careful.

One big reason why patients start gaining weight again is because they start drinking more of their calories. They add soda, mixed alcoholic drinks, beer, coffee-based frozen beverages, and other high-calorie drinks back into their diet. We recommend patients avoid drinking beverages with calories, except when recommended by a doctor (protein supplements, for example). Stick to water and calorie-free water beverages.

Reason #3: Lack of physical exercise

Once your diet has become more routine, your body will start to adapt to a certain caloric intake. You will lose less and less weight until you reach a plateau. You can only reduce your caloric intake so much before you start to affect your nutrition. As a result, physical exercise becomes much more important the longer it’s been since your surgery.

Exercise isn’t just important for burning calories. It’s important for building muscle mass, improving cardiovascular health, improving bone density, increasing energy levels, and improving cognition (among many other benefits). It’s hard to overstate how beneficial exercise is, especially for gastric sleeve patients.

You won’t be able to do much exercise immediately after surgery, but after a few weeks, you’ll be able to do some light walking. Over time, your doctor will allow you to start jogging, swimming, and lifting weights. It’s important to start an exercise routine as it will be an added boost to your weight loss efforts while also helping you live a healthier lifestyle.

Dr. Jalil Illan provides gastric sleeve surgery in Tijuana, Mexico. Contact us to schedule a consultation!

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