I had a gastric bypass in 2001. Some folks mistakenly think the bypass is the magic ticket to weight loss. It isn’t. It’s a tool that works for about 18 months to 2 years, and once the body adapts to the surgery, the body will often start to regain weight. I gained 70 pounds after my body adapted to my surgery. I have to lose this weight the old fashioned way through hard work. People often think my stomach is small so I don’t get hungry. Not true. I feel “hungry” but that’s not real hunger. It’s just a response when the body wants to eat. Fluctuations in blood sugar tell the body “I want to eat.”
Just like anyone else who has the gastric bypass, my stomach has stretched out over time to hold more food than I need to live on. I have to consciously reduce the amount of food I eat, because my body is very efficient in using energy. What isn’t used I will wear under my skin, just like anyone else who overeats. The gastric bypass did save my life, because I did lose the equivalent to a whole person. With the weight gain, I’m now working hard to lose all of the gained weight.
Those of us who are overweight and obese carry tens of thousands of usable energy around with us in the form of body fat. This is true whether we have had bariatric surgery or not. In fact, we who have had gastric bypass surgery are always at risk for regaining weight. Weight gain often occurs due to natural changes that occur in the stomach and small intestine over time. This is why the effects of the surgery only last for approximately 18 months. After a year and a half to two years the stomach is able to hold more food and the small intestine is able to tolerate and absorb more nutrients. In other words, the gut becomes more efficient as time goes on. The more efficient the gut is, the more likely you are to regain weight.
There are other reasons for weight gain after bypass surgery. The most common causes of weight gain after gastric bypass surgery are going back to old eating habits and failing to exercise enough to promote or maintain weight loss. I regained 70 pounds over a few years’ time because my stomach and small intestine adapted to my favorite sins. I loved chocolate bars and Bavarian donuts. For the first year and a half I could not tolerate any sweet foods or liquids. As time went on, my gut adapted and I began to gain weight. My exercise routine fell off too. My portion sizes had increased over time also which caused me to consume more calories than I needed.
I mentioned in another article that gastric bypass surgery is not a free ticket to weight loss. Some people have the surgery and they don’t lose any weight at all. I lost about 30 percent of my total weight. The rest of my weight loss will come from portion control, making healthy food choices, and getting adequate exercise. Some individuals consider having their gastric bypass surgery redone. This is very dangerous, and the possibilities for something to go wrong increase.
My surgeon told me that I had a 1 in 200 chance of dying after having bariatric surgery, because there is a possibility that bleeding can occur and that the gastric contents can leak out into the abdomen. My surgeon held me NPO (nothing by mouth) for 3 days post op before he allowed me to drink a medicine cup full of juice. If I were to have the surgery done again, my chances of something going wrong would be much higher. I spoke to my surgeon about second surgeries and he informed me that there is a higher chance that I wouldn’t heal because scar tissue does not heal as well.
The purpose for the 18 month to 2 year period that bariatric surgery works is to train yourself in behavior modification. This is the time to build healthy habits. It is important to maintain those healthy habits beyond the 2 year window to continue losing and to maintain the weight lost. Now, 12 years after having gastric bypass surgery, I am once again maintaining small servings so that my stomach does not fill beyond 4 ounces in volume at any one time.
Note: The image is not of me. It is from the photo gallery.