Avoiding Weight Regain

Weight regain is a common concern for bariatric patients. For most, their struggles with weight have been life long. Countless diets, programs and pills that all lead to gaining all your lost weight back, and more. Statistically, bariatric surgery is very different from the pattern most dieters are used to. ASMBS, a leading bariatric medical society, has reported that roughly 50% of weight loss surgery patients will regain a small amount of weight in the years following their surgery. This small amount falls around 5-10% of excess weight being regained. When looking at the bigger picture, even 10% regain when over 100 pounds have been lost, is by no means a failure. But seeing the number on the scale move up can be anxiety inducing.

Like any person, bariatric patients will experience natural fluctuations in their weight. Bariatric surgery does not magically get you to your goal weight and it certainly doesn’t magically keep you there. It takes a lot of hard work, dedication, and follow through to find success. Following the initial first year or year and a half, weight loss slows and weight tends to stabilize at a new normal. As your body acclimates to the new digestive pattern that was created, a small rebound is entirely normal. That being said, a weight shift upward that is beyond what you feel comfortable with is possible too.

What are some ways to stay on track and avoid regain after weight loss surgery?

  • Stay engaged with the process. Being a bariatric patient isn’t a short-term role. Creating a new normal is hard, and yes, some rules will change and relax as time goes on, but there are some habits that we know are not good for us and are best left behind.
  • Stay connected. Allow your care team and support system to be a part of your journey. Isolating yourself can be dangerous, while allowing others in on your goals and struggles creates opportunities for them to help.
  • Focus on what you gain. It is easy to think in terms of what you’re giving up, but shifting the focus to the positives of what you gain (hello new experiences and years on your life!) can be incredibly impactful. Most patients also find what they do give up, they ultimately feel much better without.

If you notice a weight gain that is more severe, accompanied by other symptoms, or you can’t attribute to a change in lifestyle factors, we recommend you schedule an appointment and consult with your surgeon. Typically we will start by examining your lifestyle, including diet and exercise habits. Often times, patients relax their habits and allow less than ideal foods or behaviors to slip back in. If this is the case, we can discuss strategies to get back on track and will likely see things start to move in the right direction. We recommend consulting your care team before trying message board popular “pouch reset” diets, as we want to avoid unhealthy behaviors and falling back into a negative diet culture.

Professionals like your surgeon, bariatric registered dietitians, or behavior health providers may offer different perspectives that can be important to your success. Your care team can help you navigate what is best in your situation. For some patients, coaching on how to make food choices with a nutritionist is a huge help while for others assistance with managing chronic issues like anxiety or depression is ideal. If you need support and aren’t sure where to turn, a phone call to our practice is a great start.