Surgery alone isn’t a permanent solution — good eating and exercise habits are key to staying at a healthy weight.

If you’ve had bariatric surgery, congratulations on taking a significant step forward in living healthier. Now, you might be wondering how to go about keeping the weight off that you lost.

While bariatric surgery is an invaluable tool for losing weight, it’s worth remembering that surgery alone isn’t a permanent solution to obesity. Practicing good eating and exercise habits are key to staying at a healthy weight.

“It’s so important after surgery to eat healthy foods, follow the bariatric protocol for nutrition that you are given and stay active, or the disease and its comorbidities may return,” explains Dr. Michael Lee of Lee Bariatrics.

“In the first year to 18 months after surgery, most patients are diligent about sticking to good diet and exercise habits. But as they start to tolerate a wider variety of foods, many begin to eat more and exercise less. Weight loss slows down or plateaus before beginning to creep up,” he adds.

Although weight regain is most often related to diet, it can happen for a variety of reasons. A fistula (abnormal opening) may develop after gastric bypass surgery that allows food to enter the bigger stomach. Or, the sleeve from a sleeve gastrectomy may get too stretched to sufficiently limit food intake.

How to stay on a good course

While weight regain is common after bariatric surgery, it’s not inevitable. Here are seven tips for maintaining your weight loss:

  1. Start by recognizing that obesity is a chronic condition that programs your body to gain weight. A dedicated bariatric team is your ally in the fight to lose weight and improve your health.
  2. Don’t be ashamed if you begin regaining weight. Reach out to your bariatric team to help you determine why this is happening. “They are here to help you succeed,” Dr. Lee says. “You may benefit from one of the FDA approved weight-loss medications or some simple coaching and support.”
  3. Schedule regular visits with your bariatric team to keep your weight loss on track and to maintain accountability.
  4. Follow your recommended diet and nutrition plan diligently. This will help ensure you get adequate nutrients and maintain your muscle mass. The goal is to eat a regular diet in smaller amounts.
  5. Avoid snacking or grazing. These activities can prevent you from feeling full, and the extra calories will sabotage your weight loss.
  6. If you have trouble maintaining the lifestyle changes that have been recommended for you, seek a weight-loss support group. Chances are you’ll find others are struggling with the same issues. If you feel you would benefit from individualized support, your bariatric team can connect you with someone who has been in your shoes to mentor you.
  7. If you regain weight, dig deep inside yourself to remember why you sought bariatric surgery in the first place. Then recommit yourself. You can do this!

“Weight-loss surgery is currently the most effective way to lose excess weight and has the highest rates of weight maintenance in the long term,” Dr. Lee says. “We define success in bariatric surgery as retaining 50 percent of weight loss five years after a patient’s initial procedure. Rarely do patients gain all their weight back.

Should weight regain occur, know that it’s not about failure and that there are options available to address it. From tailored counseling and behavioral therapy programs to weight-loss medications and laparoscopic revision surgery, we’re here to get you back on the road to better health.”  

Lee Bariatrics is happy to provide guidance and support with weight-loss management. Give the skilled team a call at 940-323-3450.

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