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How Likely is Gaining Weight After Gastric Bypass?

By Kelly Ferguson
Updated May 17, 2024
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Gaining weight after gastric bypass surgery is a very real problem for many people. Once the surgery has been completed, patients generally lose weight very rapidly, and the procedure is considered a success. For some people who do not make a commitment to live a healthier lifestyle, however, it is possible that the weight may be gained back in the long term.

There are fewer studies measuring the rate of patients gaining weight after gastric bypass surgery in the long term than there are measuring the short term effects of the surgery. Several bariatric specialists found significant results in a study reporting that, approximately two years after surgery, patients were on average at their lowest BMI. Following that two years, the patients began gaining some weight back. The same study found that, after a five- to ten-year follow-up, patients who started at a higher BMI usually gained more weight back than those who had surgery at a lower BMI.

The lifestyle a patient leads is likely to have a huge impact on the long-term success of his or her surgery. People who are emotional eaters and use food to combat depression and anxiety often have a hard time transitioning from this habit into eating the tiny portions of healthy food required for long-term success. If the patient continues to binge or even snack frequently, it is possible that the stomach may stretch back to its original size, essentially reversing the effect of the surgery. Weight loss doctors explain that even pushing yourself to eat one or two extra bites per meal can lead to eventual stretching. Over time, this stretching of the stomach, especially combined with a diet full of typically high fat or high sugar "comfort foods" may lead to the patient gaining weight after gastric bypass surgery.

Counseling, including both therapy and behavioral counseling, as well as nutritional education are often necessary steps for the patient to undertake to learn how to avoid gaining weight after gastric bypass surgery. To reduce the future weight gain, many bariatric support resources recommend patients follow a fairly rigid diet and exercise plan following the surgery to prevent complications, including future weight gain. Often, these clinics emphasize the importance of exercise as a way to improve the results of the weight loss surgery, because patients who exercise after the surgery are expected to regain less weight than patients who do not.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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