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5 Ways to Keep Weight Off After Bariatric Surgery

February 06, 2023

One quick surgery could be the end of the years-long battle with your weight. Sound too good to be true?

The short answer is yes. Although it might be the right place to start, bariatric surgery isn’t the “quick fix” that some advertisements make it out to be.

But here’s the good news – it does work. For many dedicated patients, weight loss surgery is the first step to a healthier lifestyle. But this procedure is just the beginning of a life-long journey, and to get results, patients have to be willing to make that commitment.

“We tell patients that surgery is a tool, but emphasize that they have to follow a healthy lifestyle or the weight will eventually return,” says Devika Umashanker, MD, a bariatric medicine specialist with the Hartford HealthCare.

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Keeping the weight off

So what does life look like after bariatric surgery? Dr. Umashanker offers five keys to keeping weight loss after surgery.

  1. Stick with pre-surgery suggestions from your registered dietitian. Every patient meets with a Hartford HealthCare dietitian before bariatric surgery to learn about healthy eating, calorie counting and the danger of liquid calories. Avoiding habits like grazing can also keep your daily intake down.
  2. Follow a physical activity program. Start exercising as soon as possible after your surgery. Find fun ways to make it part of your everyday life.
  3. Stay in touch with your primary care physician and other clinicians. It’s important to regularly monitor weight-related conditions like type 2 diabetes, hypertension, depression and anxiety. The providers, Dr. Umashanker says, can adjust or reduce medications as appropriate.
  4. Keep your bariatric follow-up appointments. The team will monitor weight loss (or regain), vitamin and mineral levels.
  5. Talk about weight loss plateaus or regain. Your bariatric team is available to help you through challenges and can suggest medications to help. Consider attending a bariatric support group, where people understand what you’re going through.

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Stick with it

After weight loss surgery, patients lose weight rapidly for a period of months. But, about 12 to 18 months after the procedure, the body adjusts. If you don’t adhere to the suggestions from your surgical team, weight will not only stop dropping off, but can actually sneak back on.

“The body’s metabolism changes after bariatric surgery and patients need to adjust their eating patterns. You don’t need the same number of calories at the new, lower weight as you did at the higher weight, or you’ll regain,” says Dr. Umashanker.

“Weight regain does happen. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about,” she adds. “We are here to help you understand why it’s happening and how to stop it. We want every patient to be successful in this weight loss journey.”