Bariatric surgery is the most effective and reliable way to eliminate obesity. However, your weight loss journey even with this surgery is going to have some temporary ups and downs before you attain full and final freedom from obesity. Many patients experience what is known as a bariatric stall or bariatric plateau, and may want to know how to break a stall after weight loss surgery.
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What is a Bariatric Plateau?
A bariatric plateau refers to a temporary post-bariatric surgery phase when your body weight becomes stagnant and stops reducing progressively at the desired pace. It’s critical to understand why do stalls after weight loss surgery occur and how to overcome them.
Weight loss journey is not linear
To begin with, you should know that even if you are doing everything in accordance with your bariatric surgeon’s directions, a weight loss surgery plateau can still occur. When you accept this fact, you will have more patience and will be able to maintain focus to achieve your weight loss goals more effectively.
Typical weight loss trend line
When you discuss with your surgeon about how to break a stall after weight loss surgery, they will explain to you the average weight loss trend line. In the first few weeks post-surgery, the weight loss will be rapid. And then the pace will slow down. This trend line includes intermittent phases when a bariatric stall will occur.
Key reasons for weight loss surgery plateau
When you want to know how to break a weight loss plateau after gastric sleeve or gastric bypass surgery, it is first important to understand its underlying causes. Here are a few reasons why a bariatric stall may occur:
- Physiology: Each human being’s physiology is unique. If two patients go through an identical bariatric surgery and follow the same diet and exercise regimen, their bodies could still respond differently. As a result, one patient may experience a weight loss surgery plateau, while the other may not.
- Metabolism: As your weight loss occurs post-surgery, you may not only lose fat, but also some muscle. Muscle promotes your body’s metabolism. As muscle loss takes place, the metabolic rate will go down. Slower metabolism will reduce your pace of weight loss and may cause a bariatric plateau.
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- Body defense: After years of obesity, if you suddenly start losing weight rapidly post-bariatric surgery, your body’s natural defense mechanisms will be triggered to halt this activity. At this point, a bariatric stall may occur, and you can ask your surgeon how to break a stall after weight loss surgery.
- DNA set point: Every individual has their own internal body set point that is configured by our DNA matrix and our environment. When you start eating a controlled diet post-operatively, your progress stalls after weight loss surgery at the natural DNA set point, and a bariatric plateau occurs.
Gastric sleeve weight loss plateau
Following your gastric sleeve surgery, your weight loss surgeon will educate you about your recovery process, post-op diet, and the expected weight loss timeline. At this point, you can discuss the possibility of a VSG stall and how to break a stall after weight loss surgery.
When does a gastric sleeve weight loss plateau occur?
While there is no way to anticipate a weight loss plateau after sleeve gastrectomy, it generally occurs around the end of the first month. In the first three to four weeks, you will achieve rapid weight loss because of a liquid and semi-liquid diet, but as soon as you move to a thicker diet, your body will need time to adjust and gastric sleeve plateau may occur.
How to break a weight loss plateau after gastric sleeve?
You should first review whether you have precisely followed the prescribed gastric sleeve post-op diet plan. If there have been no deviations, just try to make some variations to your diet and start mild exercises after consulting your surgeon or physical therapist. If you find some gaps in your dietary regimen, start focusing on plugging those gaps to restart your weight loss.
Gastric bypass weight loss plateau
Gastric bypass surgery may induce faster and greater weight loss than gastric sleeve, especially in the early stages. This happens because your calorie absorption will reduce after this surgery along with a reduced capacity to eat. But a gastric bypass weight loss plateau may still occur.
When does a weight loss plateau after gastric bypass occur?
In general, a gastric bypass surgery weight loss plateau may occur at about 9 to 12 weeks after the procedure. You may have lost a substantial amount of excess weight by that time, and your body may start defending itself against further weight reduction. It is best to talk to your surgeon about how to break a stall after weight loss surgery if you’ve had a gastric bypass.
How to break a weight loss plateau after gastric bypass?
If your gastric bypass weight loss plateau has occurred after two to three months, you have an advantage because you can perform more vigorous exercises at that stage. In consultation with your surgeon or therapist, add more physical activities to your daily regimen and reconfigure your diet if necessary. This will help you break the temporary bariatric plateau.
Lap band weight loss plateau
A weight loss plateau after lap band surgery is more common because this procedure is less invasive and may not prove very effective in many cases. It’s crucial to consult your surgeon about how to break stalls after weight loss surgery, especially if you have had a gastric band procedure. Here are a few key steps to consider in case of a lap band weight loss plateau.
- Seek a medical exam to see if the gastric band has moved from its position.
- Look for signs of lap band leak or damage, which could result in a bariatric stall.
- Reassess your post-op bariatric diet and exercise program in consultation with the surgeon.
- Consider the possibility of a lap band conversion to gastric sleeve in case of weight loss failure.
5 tips on how to break a weight loss plateau after weight loss surgery
A weight loss surgery plateau can be frustrating, but the good news is that it is temporary and you can usually overcome it without any need for medical or surgical intervention. Here are five time-tested tips on how to break a stall after weight loss surgery.
- Adjust Your Diet: In the event of a gastric bypass or VSG stall, you should re-focus on your diet plan and start tracking your daily diet more diligently. Stay hydrated, avoid sugary drinks as far possible, reduce the carbs, eat slowly and in small portions, and emphasize on lean proteins in your diet.
- Change Fitness Regimen: Depending on the post-op stage when your gastric bypass or gastric sleeve weight loss plateau has occurred, you may make some changes to your fitness plan. Add new exercises, change the number of exercises, or increase their intensity to break the bariatric stall.
- Improve Lifestyle Habits: Once your surgeon frees you from the stringent post-surgery restrictions, it can be tempting to go back to the habits of smoking, drinking, or staying awake until late at night. Cutting back on these habits and choosing a healthy lifestyle will help you beat your bariatric plateau.
- Focus on Mental Health: Manage your daily work-life balance, reduce your stress levels, and make an effort to build positive relationships at home and work. If you are experiencing psychological or emotional health issues, seek professional counseling. These steps will help break your weight loss stall.
- Consult Your Surgeon: If you believe that you alone cannot manage the course correction, do not hesitate to ask your surgeon about how to how to break a weight loss plateau after bariatric surgery. Your surgeon can give you the best advice to put you back on the path to freedom from obesity.
Final words on stalls after weight loss surgery
If your weight loss stalls after bariatric surgery, do not be disheartened. Bariatric plateaus are a natural occurrence, and it does not necessarily mean that you have diverged from your prescribed diet plan. As long as you are committed to your goals, you will be able to break a weight loss surgery plateau easily and go on to win your battle against obesity.