8 Gastric Sleeve regrets patient may face and how to handle them

Chapter 6

In this chapter, we are going to discuss gastric sleeve regrets. This article is for you if you underwent gastric sleeve surgery and are feeling unhappy or not completely satisfied or if you are interested in the procedure but feel unsure.

Gastric sleeve surgery has a high success rate, however, sometimes patients may still struggle to achieve their weight loss goals. Patients sometimes feel like they are regretting the surgery when hitting a bump in the road. It’s important to talk about these struggles and the journey as well. These struggles may include unrealistic expectations, problems with eating habits, hitting a plateau period temporarily, problems with body image, and excess skin.

Don’t get discouraged thinking you may have gastric surgery regrets and let’s get all the info you need.

Gastric sleeve regrets: expectations vs reality

If you’re considering gastric sleeve, it’s helpful to know many aspects patients have to face to avoid thinking you have gastric sleeve regrets. Being prepared and knowing some struggles are only temporary may be a big help. If you face any trouble, you must know that there is a solution. Here are the 8 main gastric sleeve regrets we hear from patients:

  1. Expecting to lose faster or more
  2. Hitting the plateau from time to time
  3. Eating/chewing slowly
  4. Struggling to cope without comfort food
  5. The recovery process is hard
  6. Not knowing enough about the post-op life
  7. Not knowing how to manage excess skin
  8. Feeling like it’s not enough

Let’s break down each point thoroughly one by one:

gastric sleeve regrets

1. Expecting to lose faster or more

The realistic expectations of weight are about 50-60% in a year or 18 months after gastric sleeve surgery.

Hypothetically if you weigh 160kg (352.74 pounds), it is possible to lose up to 60% of your weight in less than 2 years which means losing 96 kg (211.644 pounds). You can set a goal of reaching about 64 kg (141,096) in a matter of 2-year progress or less.

The first year of bariatric surgery is a golden year because a patient can lose a significant amount of weight. After a year, you need to maintain the same healthy lifestyle. After that, the process is not as fast, but you can still lose weight and start building muscles to achieve your goal. The reason behind it is due to your body adapts to the behavioral habits in terms of dietary. Your metabolic system creates energy from the food mostly unlike at the time, therefore, you need to step up the physical activity to the next level. Accordingly, you will be able to increase the chance of losing more weight and not hitting the plateau.

Keep in mind, sleeve gastrectomy is not just about losing weight, but a commitment to a 180° transformation in habits, such as eating and exercising.

So, if you lose weight less than expected or it’s slow progress, don’t worry, it is still progress. Everyone’s weight loss journey is unique. Be proud of your progress regardless of the timeline and keep going.

2. Hitting plateau from time to time

Hitting the plateau is a common experience with some patients, it is remaining at the same weight for a few weeks or a month. Every once in a while it is mandatory to change your diet and hitting a plateau is actually a sign from your body, telling you to change your diet. With these three elements, you can renovate a healthy and nourished body:

Diet: Re-evaluate your food intake. Protein, fiber, and limited calories per day shall keep you in good shape.

Exercise: When someone is advised to keep a routine to keep mobile, it doesn’t mean to work out 24/7, all you need is to find a fun physical activity you won’t find tedious. Some people like ping pong, swimming, lifting weights, etc.

Hydration: Water helps you stay full and lose weight. A cup of water before a meal helps with less calorie intake, boosts metabolism, and reduces toxins.

These three tips are a lifestyle not only for losing weight but also for increasing the quality of life gradually. If you feel like there is an exceptional reason for hitting a plateau, visit your doctor or dietitian for professional advice. Your doctor may suggest a gastric sleeve revision if needed. 

3. Eating/chewing swiftly

The digesting process first starts orally, the food needs to be broken into small pieces and swallow when it feels like pureed. That will help the sensitive stomach to break the pieces apart and higher chance of absorbing the minerals out from the substances. Additionally, you enjoy food better taste-wise doesn’t make you overeat, and prevents obesity in the long term or weight regain.

  • Better digestion.
  • Lowering the chance of overeating.
  • Enjoyable and more mindful eating experience.

4. Struggling to cope without comfort food

The best way to minimize health complications and issues is by choosing healthy food throughout your journey in life. Changing your relationship with food to better choices benefits your health greatly and enhances your quality of life and satisfaction.

Eating different ingredients and different diets could be either to your liking or the opposite according to your taste in food. Don’t be hard on yourself by eating what you do not like, try looking for other alternatives that would be healthy and tasty at the same time.

In some cases, patients tend to overcome struggles with specific sorts of food and these foods are called comfort foods. Comfort food choices may include pizza, tacos, or desserts. You can always make a healthier version of them. Moreover, you can find various options for healthy food.

5. The recovery process is hard

In the early days after undergoing weight loss surgery, patients go through a tough time. However, each patient goes through it differently in terms of experience with discomfort. You can get ideas from people who went through it but remember these aspects change from person to person.

During the recovery from a gastric surgery your body is adjusting to the new digestive system, and abdominal pain and the struggle with consuming drinks for a few days. The first 2-3 days might be a challenge. In case you are in discomfort and not knowing why do not say “I regret gastric sleeve”, it is part of the recovery progress. You can take painkillers to reduce the discomfort. 

In terms of long-run recovery, it includes lifestyle changes which mean there are day-to-day interventions in terms of habits of dietary and mobility. Following the guidelines can be hard but can be exciting at the same time in the early stages because everything is new but the challenge is keeping it constant for 365 days. Therefore you need support from both families and also professional help from your trainer and dietician. 

6. Not knowing enough about the post-op life

This weight loss journey includes surgery and post-op care. The gastric sleeve is the first step the patients take and then the actual journey starts. Not being conscious about post-op life will put you in unexpected challenges in life. Diet plans, exercising, and overcoming previous habits such as food choices are compelling experiences.

Undergoing gastric sleeve surgery can be a physical and mental challenge. That is why there are both psychiatrist and dietitian visits pre-op to give a heads-up plan and mentally be ready to face it with an open heart and consciousness.

If you want to have the surgery, here is a picture of how your life should be post-op. The surgery is life-changing indeed, the doctor does %50 of the work and for the other half you must be informed by a dietitian, psychiatrist, and your doctor.

7. Not knowing how to manage excess skin

After losing a significant amount of weight with bariatric surgery, some patients may find that they have excess skin. This is quite normal and common but not everyone experiences it to the same degree. If you have faced excess skin and are worrying about it, it can be addressed through a variety of methods, such as exercise or aesthetic procedures. It’s important to remember that everyone’s weight loss journey is unique and that there is no one-size-fits-all solution.

As aesthetic procedures, you may consider undergoing a tummy tuck, or body lift to remove the extra skin. It could be done in both the lower and upper body, including the face.

A patient may think the extra skin can cause low self-esteem, but it actually can be inspirational and moving for others. Either way, it shows how successful your journey was and how disciplined you are.

However, if you haven’t undergone surgery yet, and if you are hanging back because you think you might get excess skin, you must know that it is preventable. Exercising at the right time and correctly can reduce the risk of having excess skin. You can consider consulting an expert for the proper exercise for you.

8. Feeling like it's never enough

Feeling confident and comfortable in your own body can be a challenge for many people, especially after undergoing a significant physical transformation. This can cause ongoing distress and negative thoughts about their appearance. If you’re struggling with these feelings, know that you’re not alone and there is help available. Here are some suggestions to help you get over it:

Psychiatrist: Pay a visit to a specialized psychology doctor and address how this thought affects you. According to your case, the doctor will practice the right treatment for you. It could be cognitive-behavioral therapy or medication. In case you are advised for therapy sessions, it is best not to skip the schedules given.

Exercise: The body achieves what the mind believes. It is always the first step that is hard, the next one will be significantly much easier and it will become a routine without you knowing it. It is more of a mind game than a physical one if you think of it.

Support groups: Participating in support groups can majorly impact a patient. Communicating with people who are experiencing the same challenges can help both ends to build a more active social life.

Remember, exercising and support groups are not cures for body dysmorphia but it helps you to be more positive and increase your quality of life physically and mentally.

If you’re considering gastric sleeve surgery, you must go to a professional. We’ll be happy to help you! You can contact us either by filling out the form here or by clicking the green chat icon left down below. Our team we’ll get in touch with you shortly!

Jumbe S, Hamlet C, Meyrick J. Psychological Aspects of Bariatric Surgery as a Treatment for Obesity. Curr Obes Rep. 2017 Mar;6(1):71-78. doi: 10.1007/s13679-017-0242-2. PMID: 28243838; PMCID: PMC5359375.

Bartosiak K, Janik MR, Kowalewski P, Walędziak M, Kwiatkowski A. Decision Regret after Laparoscopic Sleeve Gastrectomy-5 Years’ Perspective. Obes Surg. 2021 Aug;31(8):3686-3691. doi: 10.1007/s11695-021-05480-0. Epub 2021 May 25. PMID: 34033012; PMCID: PMC8270864.

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