4 Reasons You Gain Weight After Gastric Bypass

K. Mathews on 17 Aug 2011 at 9:00am

With a 96% Worth-It Rating, gastric bypass surgery has been a savior for obese patients hoping to look and feel healthier. Though the results may seem miraculous, according to Long Island Bariatric surgeon Dr. Shawn Garber, lost weight is regained in about 20-30% of patients. Here are four reasons why people put back on the pounds after bariatric surgery, and what they can do about it:

1. Unhealthy Habits

Following surgery, patients become complacent with their new trim appearance and don’t work toward actively maintaining their body. In the words of Houston Bariatric surgeon Dr. Ricardo M. Bonnor, “It is important in the immediate post-operative period to develop a good game plan and establish healthy eating habits that will carry you for the rest of your life.”

gastric bypass before and after2. Anatomic Failure

“There are a number of anatomic and physiological conditions that can occur that cause the patient to no longer have adequate hunger or volume control,” says Bariatric surgeon Dr. Lloyd Stegemann of Corpus Christi. Although he says that this is the case for only about 5% of patients who regain weight, it is not altogether uncommon and usually requires a second operation to resolve the issues.

3. Eating High Calorie Foods

It’s true that gastric bypass patients will feel fuller sooner, but that effect means little for people who consume foods with a high calorie to volume ratio, such as protein and milkshakes. Los Angeles plastic surgeon Dr. Raffy Karamanoukian warns that digesting these smaller foods that pack in a lot of calories are likely to result in weight gain.

4. Pouch Expansion

If the stomach returns to its former size, obviously it will not help curb consumption. While there are several approaches to readjust the pouch, Long Island Bariatric surgeon Dr. David Buchin recommends “consult[ing] with a bariatric surgeon who is proficient in revisional surgery.”

Photo Credit: Tobyotter on Flickr; Dr. Shawn Garber

Comments (8)

There are so many options when considering weight loss, from dieting to gastric bypass surgery. I think making the choice to lose weight in the first place is a great step in the right direction. You and your doctor then need to weigh out what is the best route for you to take to achieve your goals. You don't want to gain weight again.
One reason I feel people also regain after surgery that is not mentioned in the article. Losing lean mass due to not getting in adequate protein and being physically active during the 'honeymoon' phase. This will cause you to reduce your metabolism. Once you can eat more food this will cause regain.
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This is exactly why I HAVEN'T had the surgery. I have SO much to figure out in my head that is causing my obesity. Getting a smaller appetite would only be temporary success based on my history with emotional eating... One day at a time, eh? Thanks for the read! :)

Hi Kirsten,

I'm glad you're taking this approach. Bariatric surgery is a very succesful method of losing weight for those who are morbidly obese. However, as you have mentioned you have to have all of the phsychological issues put to rest first or it will be a much harder journey.

Good luck with your weight loss!


Yes! I am a very strong believer in addressing the psychological reasons behind our eating habits. Willpower will only get you so far.

Weight loss surgery is as much psychological as it is physical. We're having this surgery because we've developed bad eating habits, which have left us severly over weight. The surgery can fix the amount of food we eat but not what we eat. If we're not prepared mentally then those unhealthy eating habits will kick in and make losing weight all that much harder.


Great insight, Kirsty!