One of the questions gastric sleeve patients ask on a regular basis is, “Will my stomach stretch after gastric sleeve surgery?”
Can You Stretch Out Your Stomach After Gastric Sleeve Surgery?
The answer is YES, but it’s very different than people think!
The new sleeve stomach is 85% smaller than it’s original size and holds 85% less food. The “sleeve” is durable, yet small. It’s very difficult to stretch your stomach after gastric sleeve surgery because you are not hungry and can’t eat a lot without feeling full.
It is not possible to stretch out your stomach back to its full size after gastric sleeve surgery. It is, however, possible for your stomach varies in size from time to time. The amount of stretching is very minor, and generally doesn’t stretch often.
How to Avoid Stretching Your Stomach After Gastric Sleeve?
It’s one of the biggest misconceptions and misinformed question in bariatric surgery. Yet, patients need to know this to maintain healthy, effective, and long-term success with gastric sleeve surgery.
The key is being mindful of the volume of food you ingest and choosing nutrient dense proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.
Healthy stretching of your stomach postoperatively is necessary to get enough nutrients to stay healthy. However, it can become a problem if patients are mindless in their eating behaviors or engage in emotional or binge eating, causing unnecessary stomach stretching, which could lead to weight regain.
We encourage patients to think through their past actions and choices that lead them to become obese in the first place. Whether lifestyle choices, dietary choices, emotional eating, pharmacology, or other unhealthy behaviors were at play.
Weight Regain after Gastric Sleeve Surgery
Although difficult, patients can regain weight after sleeve surgery for a variety of reasons. A larger stomach, will not necessarily cause weight regain. Weight gain can be a multifactorial problem; The key is to remember that gastric sleeve surgery is a tool to support healthy behavior change.
Causes of Weight Regain After Gastric Sleeve:
- Binge/emotional eating
- Lack of control of impulse eating
- Inactivity or Immobility
- Overconsumption of sugary or alcoholic beverages (we don’t endorse the consumption of alcohol)
- Hormones in Meat
- Lack of sleep
- Pregnancy or Menopause
- Imbalanced meal planning
Weight regain will be hampered by any of the leading causes. It’s important to be cognizant of any barriers that may be contributed to being obese in the first place.
Thus, if you’re regaining weight postoperatively, it’s important to revisit and assess what choices lead you to the current state you are in now.
How to Keep Weight Off After Gastric Sleeve Surgery
Because your stomach will stretch after surgery, it’s important to adopt healthy lifestyle choices. If patients go back to their same eating and lifestyle choices they had preoperatively, they will inevitably gain weight at the same rate they had before. Lifestyle changes and eating nutrient-rich foods will help to produce substantial weight loss and keep the weight off. Remember, the gastric sleeve was performed in your stomach, not in your head.
Ways to Minimize Unhealthy Weight Gain After Surgery:
- Balanced meal planning with lean proteins, healthy fats, and non-processed carbohydrates
- Portion control: do not overeat
- Training your taste buds to like non-sweet beverages like water, herbal teas, and True Lemon products
- The practice of Mindful Eating
- Do not drink with your meals; it pushes food through your pouch faster causing you to be hungry faster
- Stress management tools like meditation, yoga, exercise, and mindful walking
- Treat yourself to no- food items
Exercise, yoga, and meditation are highly recommended to ease stress and avoid emotional eating.
Exercising to Maintain Weight Loss
Patients will need to keep moving to maintain weight loss; this is especially important as they get further from their surgery date. Patients focusing on intensity and not the duration of physical activity will have the most success postoperatively. Those who engage in exercise will also experience a multitude of additional benefits.
- Weight Lifting
- Speed Walking
These exercises are not for all patients – please consult with your physicians. If you drink high-calorie sodas and fruit juices, you may not lose weight. This is the same as consuming alcohol.
Post-Op Phases of Gastric Sleeve
Gastric sleeve surgery is a tool that can have a profound effect on your long-term health. In the short term, gastric sleeve focuses on restriction for the patient to feel satiety, while their body utilizes the excess fat in their bodies as energy.
With this newly reduced stomach, patients will only be able to consume small amounts of food. With only a few bites, patients will be malnourished in the long run but in the short term, causes significant weight loss.
Stomach Size: Post-Op Meal Size
- 1 Month: 1 – 2 ounces of solid food
- 6 Months: 4 – 6 Ounces
- 1 Year and beyond: 6 – 8 ounces
All solid food is measured by weight, not by volume
Stomach Response To Food Intake
Our stomach is made up of folds or mucosal lining called ‘Rugae’ which permits expansion and contraction as a direct response to our food intake. In general, the food you eat gets chewed and swallowed through your mouth and passes through the esophagus into your stomach to be broken down by acids.
The food moves relatively rapidly through the sleeve and into the intestinal tract. As you continue to eat, more food enters the stomach to be processed. Food passing through the stomach and intestine triggers stretch receptors release a chemical called cholecystokinin (CCK) to signal your brain to send signals you experience as feelings of fullness or satiety. In overweight people, the hunger and fullness signals (CCK mechanism) may not function properly.
When your stomach is overstretched, you are constantly overeating. Since it takes a longer time for your stomach to fill up and you will eat larger quantities of food before your brain can signal satisfaction and fullness.
Prevention Of Stomach Stretching After Gastric Sleeve Surgery
- Take small bites
- Eat slowly, pause between bites and chew your food to enjoy the taste.
- Be cognizant of your body’s response to being satisfied.
- Use a smaller plate as smaller plates hold less food.
- Avoid overeating
- Portion Control
- Do not drink when you eat. Stop all liquids thirty minutes before and thirty minutes after. This will allow fluids to not to take up space for nutrient-dense foods or push the food through faster.
- Stop mindless snacking; the only snack when you are physically hungry and chose whole food options like nuts, avocado, boiled eggs, vegetables, and fruits
- Use healthy recipes that are suitable for people who have gone through sleeve surgery.
- Remember progress, not perfection; stay focused on your “why.”
- Create a healthy routine
- Get involved in our support group – Mexico Bariatric Center via FB.
- Get help if need from our Nutritionist and Health Coach.
Are You Ready to Make the Life Long Commitment?
Although weight loss surgery is one of the most successful tools for long-term weight loss, it is important to understand surgery is NOT a weight loss guarantee. People go into weight loss surgery thinking they have instant success, this for many is not the case. There is a set of bariatric guidelines that are essential for long-term success.
For long-term weight loss success, this decision is much more than just deciding to have bariatric surgery. You need to prepare and realize that changes will need to be made in many areas of your life like work, family, and your social life. Remember this is a lifestyle commitment which means you are committing to changing a variety of aspects in your current life.
Gastric Sleeve Surgery
Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy (VSG) performed laparoscopically has become the most prominent bariatric surgery performed today. Gastric sleeve surgery produces long-term weight loss for obese patients.
Gastric sleeve surgery reduces the size of your stomach and the hunger hormone, Ghrelin. You do not get hungry as much and feel full faster. The restrictive component of the surgery leads to weight loss in the long run.
Weight loss surgery is a very powerful tool to ASSIST you in long-term weight loss. Before you take the step to have bariatric surgery be sure to think about all the reasons you want to have surgery and is it worth the effort, it will take on your part, to make the lifestyle changes that are essential for long-term success.
Guide to Gastric Sleeve Surgery: