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Weight Loss Surgery: What Happens if I Regain Weight?

January 22, 2019

Dr. Devika Umashanker Dr. Devika Umashanker[/caption] When patients see me for medical weight loss, most have considered surgical weight loss at some point in their lifetime. One of their  greatest fears is gaining weight after surgery. Why? Because every one of these patients knows somebody who regained all the weight lost after bariatric surgery. It's not uncommon for patients who may have lost 50 to 100 pounds after bariatric surgery to gain back some weight. The amount varies. So, too, do the reasons. Here are a few we have encountered in our Hartford HealthCare Medical Weight Loss office:

  1. Lack of lifestyle adherence (exercise and healthy eating).
  2. Anatomical (such as pouch dilatation -- when a surgically created pouch stretches, allowing the patient to eat more).
  3. Medical (thyroid issues or new medications).
It's important for patients to keep in mind that obesity is a chronic disease. It's not cured by surgery. Surgery provides a powerful tool for significant weight loss, but without proper care “the tool” can lose its effectiveness, leading to weight regain.
Related story: Shedding Pounds Safely, Effectively (Click here)
Then there is a select group of patients who eat healthy, exercise regularly, do not have anatomical or medical issues and continue to have weight regain. Why? One possible reason: Basic science research has revealed certain weight loss hormones produced in robust amounts initially after the surgery decrease over time. It is at this pivotal time in medical care that an Obesity Medicine Specialist, like myself and our team, can assist patients who have weight regain. We have a multidisciplinary approach when treating patients with weight regain. Our team uses nutritional support for those struggling with eating healthy and unsure how to get back on track. We use our behavioral health department and recommend counseling for patients who have gone back to unhealthy eating due to emotional challenges. The medical providers prescribe anti-obesity medications, if appropriate, for patients who are eligible based on their weight and nutrition history. It is understandable for patients to be scared of weight regain after surgical weight loss. But it's extremely important for patients to be engaged continuously with their bariatric surgical and medical team. This will allow the provider to intervene early, address their particular issues and make the appropriate referrals to help prevent significant weight gain. Dr. Devika Umashanker is a Hartford HealthCare Obesity Medicine Specialist. For more  information on medical weight loss, click here