Maintaining Long-term Weight Loss after Gastric Bypass, LAP-BAND or Gastric Sleeve

By Ajay Goyal, MD, FACS

Weight loss immediately after Gastric Bypass, Gastric Sleeve, Gastric Band (LAP-BAND® or Realize® Band) surgery is rewarding. Your body is adjusting to the changes and often times the weight seems to be coming off with little or no effort. However, just like anything else in life, when the honeymoon period ends, the real work begins. And for weight loss surgery patients, the real work is changing the behaviors that caused you to lose control of your weight in the first place.

Weight loss surgery is not the end of the weight loss process, it’s the beginning. Gastric Bypass, Gastric Sleeve and Gastric Band (LAP-BAND® and REALIZE® Band) procedures are only tools to jumpstart weight loss. For long term success and weight maintenance, it’s important for patients to adopt a healthy lifestyle, full of exercise and nutritious choices for life.

Here are my top tips for Gastric Bypass, Gastric Band (LAP-BAND® or Realize® Band) patient to maintain their weight loss throughout their life:

  1. Exercise.
    There’s no getting out of exercise, it’s essential to maintaining weight loss and an important addition to your lifestyle to maintain your health for years to come. Remember to start slow, with a walk, and work your way up to more strenuous exercise – jogging and resistance training - as your ability progresses. The key is to do aerobic exercise to get your heart pumping at least 4 times a week for 30 minutes each. It can be intimidating to get started so if you need help, don’t be afraid to ask. At the New Jersey Bariatric Center we work with physical therapists to start you out on a program. The key is to find a qualified professional such as a physical therapist to give you the proper instruction so you get started safely and in the right direction.
  2. Be a Conscious Consumer.
    It’s important to know what food your body is taking in, and that means reading the nutritional labels, counting calories and keeping a food diary. There are two web sites that can help you with the process - fitday.com and caloriecount.about.com. You just fill in the food and portion size and they do the counting for you. Many people are unconscious eaters; they don’t realize the extent of the amount of food they’re consuming each day.  Reading labels, counting calories and 
  3. Weigh Yourself Every Week.
    I hear a lot of patients say they rely on how their clothes fit to determine if they’re losing, maintaining or gaining weight. But the fact of the matter is your clothes stretch, but the scale doesn’t lie. Weighing yourself once a week is the best way to maintain your weight. It allows you to spot weight gain fast, and take the steps immediately to get yourself back on track. It also is a good tool to beat the denial factor. It’s easy to make excuses and deny weight gain when you’re relying on your clothes as your measurement tool, you can say they shrunk in the washer or they never fit right in the first place, but it’s harder to make excuses for the numbers you see on the scale each week.
  4. Evaluate Weight Gain.
    Most of my patients who start to gain weight back often say they can’t figure out why because they’re not doing anything wrong. After all that hard work to get the weight off, it’s often hard for people to come to terms that their behavior is causing weight gain. Weight loss is hard, and over your lifetime, you’re going to gain a little weight. The key is to not beat yourself up about it and drive yourself to a place of emotional eating where food becomes comfort. You need to admit there’s a problem and figure out why. When you’re honest with yourself and address the problem, then you’ll be able to get yourself back on track. Remember it’s a lifestyle change you’re making, and you’ll hit some bumps along the road, but it’s a journey worth taking to maintain your health.
  5. Don’t Deprive Yourself.
    Don’t be afraid of food, especially treating yourself once a week. The more you deprive yourself of something the more you crave it. By giving yourself a little treat, you’ll be able to fend off the everyday temptations.
  6. Follow the Post-Surgery Guidelines.
    I find it’s a good rule of thumb to stick to the guidelines your doctor gave you post-surgery – eat slow, no snacking/grazing, eat three times a day, no liquid calories, and no fast food. Not only are they good guidelines post surgery, but they apply to helping you maintain your healthy lifestyle.
  7. Visit Your Doctor Regularly.
    It’s also key to visit your doctor at least once a year. He/she can help you spot the trouble areas, help you deal with situations early on and perform a nutritional evaluation to make sure you’re maintain the vitamin and protein levels needed to live a healthy life.

Ajay Goyal, MD, FACS, is founder of the New Jersey Bariatric Center, a medical & surgical weight loss center with offices in Springfield, Somerville and Hoboken, New Jersey, and Director of Bariatric surgery at Overlook Medical Center, in Summit, New Jersey.

.About New Jersey Bariatric Center

The New Jersey Bariatric Center helps patients achieve long-term weight loss success through the most advanced bariatric surgery procedures, including gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, LAP-BAND  and REALIZE Band procedures. Led by the team of Dr. Ajay Goyal, Dr. Glenn Forrester, Dr. Angela Jack and Dr. Leigh Montes, the New Jersey Bariatric Center’s approach to patient care has resulted in zero mortalities and a complication rate that is lower than the national average. For more information about bariatric surgery, visit www.NJBariatricCenter.com.