Managing Your Weight Several Years Out from Bariatric Surgery

April 6, 2018

Anyone who has dieted knows that the first phase of weight loss is exciting and far easier than maintaining that weight loss over the long-term. There are both physical and psychological reasons for this phenomenon. The weight loss process after bariatric surgery is no different. Many patients hit the ground running right after surgery and lose a significant amount of weight for the first two years after their procedure. From that point onward, weight loss and weight maintenance become somewhat more difficult and some patients may even begin to regain some of the weight they lost. Indeed, for almost every procedure, five-year excess body weight loss numbers are lower than the two-year figures. Does that mean that, even with bariatric surgery, we are destined for failure? The short answer is no. Let’s explore:

No one would be criticized for losing some of their resolve after several years of losing weight. Not only is the maintenance phase after bariatric surgery far less exciting than weight loss, but life gets in the way. Remember, that we eat for many reasons including emotional victories or losses, stress, medical conditions and more. Further, as we get older, it gets harder to exercise and maintain a vigorous regimen and injuries are more common. As a result, many patients regain approximately 5 to 10% of their excess body weight loss sometime after two years. Remember that this is perfectly normal, very expected and nothing to worry about. If you’re having any bad thoughts or doubts, contact our office or bring it up at our next support group – you’ll see that most patients have experienced the very same thing.

Speaking of support, staying motivated is much easier when you are surrounded by an actively supportive group of friends and family. From early in the weight loss process, we encourage all our patients to include their friends and family in their workouts and diet. Not only does this increase accountability, but it is far easier to stay on track when people around you participate as well.

With all the above being said, one of the greatest gifts that a long-term bariatric patient can give others (and benefit for themselves as well) is to impart their knowledge on those who are just beginning the process. There are many ways of doing this including:

  • Taking an active role in support groups, or organizing support groups for patients outside of the monthly practice-run groups. This sense of empowerment not only reinforces the principles that you, as a long-term patient, have developed, but it also helps others through their difficult moments and celebrate with them during their victories
  • Mentoring and guiding potential patients who are looking to undergo bariatric surgery can also be a very fulfilling part-time or full-time job. This is known as a patient navigator or patient advocate and when a post-op bariatric patient takes on this role, they are often able to offer an incredible amount of information and guidance
  • If your ideal situation is to impart this knowledge from home, the Internet has become a wonderful source for those considering bariatric surgery as well as those who have undergone the procedure. Leveraging the likes of video or a blog can help you document to your journey, while also showing others what the post bariatric surgery lifestyle is like. You can choose to share as much or as little information as you like, all of which will be useful to others on the web

Of course, for some, long-term weight gain is a significant issue after surgery. After all, the stomach is a very adaptable organ and can stretch far more than you would think. As a result, years of minor overindulgences can lead to a significant stretching of the stomach pouch and commensurate weight gain. To that end, if lifestyle changes are not enough to correct the issue, there’s no need to despair. There are many non-surgical and minimally invasive revision bariatric procedures that help patients regain the restriction and start to lose weight again.

There is a reason why we say: “the real work begins after surgery.” It is a time when physical and emotional changes create what can only be described as a roller coaster. As this coaster flattens out over time, bariatric patients begin to run into yet another hurdle – The monotony of maintaining weight loss.

However, staying active in the postoperative community and surrounding yourself with people who wish to contribute to your and their renewed health is the best way to stay on track and achieve long-term success.

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Advanced Surgical Associates is one of the first exclusively surgical groups practicing in Union County New Jersey. And that is just the first of many firsts for ASA. For over 40 years, we have pioneered breakthrough surgical patient care in North Jersey in both general and weight loss surgery. ASA also offers gastric bypass, gastric sleeve and gastric banding to those suffering from obesity in New Jersey.
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