February 1, 2009 -- Question: Is it possible to regain weight after bariatric surgery, and how do you avoid that?
Answer: Yes, weight regain after any kind of weight-loss procedure is always a risk. On average, patients will regain about 20 percent of the lost weight, so if you lose 100 pounds from the operation, over the rest of someone's life, they'll average a 20-pound regain. The biggest issue, and the greatest concern, is when people gain a lot more weight than that. It doesn't happen often, but there are a few things that we can do to prevent that.
First of all, recognize that anybody, even people who have had surgery, they live in this environment, which promotes obesity, and so we want to make sure that people have as healthy a lifestyle as possible after the operation. Healthy diet, reasonable food-eating behaviors, good exercise programs -- it doesn't mean go crazy with exercise, but good exercise programs -- all of those things limit weight regain.
In addition, we want to make sure that people don't try too hard to lose more weight than the surgery causes. Some people are unhappy with the amount of weight loss that the surgery causes, and in those circumstances they might go on a restrictive diet or a crash diet, and that can lead to the beginning of a yo-yo pattern, where you lose weight and regain more, lose weight, regain more, and that can undo the effects of surgery.
So, as long as people live a healthy lifestyle, follow good principles in terms of diet and exercise, I think the amount of weight regain is pretty limited.