The diet cycle experienced by those of us who are obese is a familiar one. We look in the mirror and sigh and/or cry. We read books, check out magazines, surf the internet. We find some new diet that looks like it might work. We try the diet. It works: for a while. Then, something happens. Maybe Real Life interferes. Perhaps we decide we can’t live on grapefruit and quinoa. It is even possible that we recognize the fact that obese bodies can not manage high-intensity interval training every day. But something interferes, the diet stops, and we gain all our weight back.
So, why would we expect bariatric surgery to be any different? And, let’s face some facts here: bariatric surgery is a heck of a lot more invasive and expensive than our usual diets.
Do we really want to invest so much if we are only going to gain the weight back anyway?
The Cold Equations
Here’s the truth: about 20% of bariatric patients eventually suffer some sort of regain.
Don’t get me wrong: that is a big number. For one in five people that go through bariatric surgery, the lowest weight they achieve after surgery will not be their stopping point. They will eventually creep back up to some other weight.
But notice what is not being said here: 20% of patients do not regain all their weight. They hit a low weight, then eventually add some weight back to that. The number of patients who end up regaining all their weight is so low that I can’t even find reliable numbers on the phenomenon.
Let’s say my desire for beer and Oreos finally takes me out back and roughs me up. As a consequence, I gain 50 pounds from my current 192. This leaves me, bruised and depressed, at 242 pounds.
In other words, I would still be 50 pounds lighter than where I started this process. And no doctor is ever going to tell you that a permanent weight loss of 50 pounds is bad for an obese person.
Heck, when I started this process, I was hoping to lose around 50 pounds.
The Hows And Whys
Regain is not an exact science. Some people decide they can’t live without certain elements of their old diet. There are those that determine they do not want to exercise. There are even a few people who lose too much (the mind boggles) and have to regain to be at a healthy weight.
The other thing to remember is that the process does not have to stop with regain. A person who regains still has the ability to identify the elements of their lifestyle that are not contributing to weight loss. You can always fight back.
Will it be at as easy as it was during the “honeymoon period” after surgery? Nope, not at all. But the fact is, the honeymoon ends for all of us. At some point, the “free” weight loss ends and the work of maintenance begins. That work is the same whether you have stayed at a stable weight or regained 20+ pounds.
Once again: bariatric surgery is a single tool to use in your fight against obesity. And any long-term weight loss is contributing to your overall health. If regain should happen, don’t give up. Just remind yourself that it could be (and has been) worse, and keep on fighting.
And put down the Oreos, for goodness sake.
Avoiding Oreo Alley and Beer Boulevard,