Most patients assume that the stomach stretching is a complication of bariatric surgery. Stomach stretching is not a complication. The stomach has an innate ability to stretch to accommodate food intake. The walls of the stomach are composed of tissue called “rugae”, which accounts for the stretching as a direct response to food intake. After ingesting food, the stomach first expands, then contracts, as food is pushed into the digestive tract, and the cycle repeats every time a person eats something. Though stomach stretching is a natural and supposed to happen after eating, too much stretching can lead to skewed hunger and fullness signals. Continued stretching makes the stomach ask for more food, even when it’s half or completely full which is one of the reasons why maintaining weight loss after bariatric surgery can be tough.
What are the possible complications of stomach stretching?
Stomach stretching mostly happens after overeating and may lead to permanent increase in the size of the stomach. As the stomach grows, it demands more food to feel satiated, as hunger and fullness signals are skewed. Patients end up having more than the prescribed calorie intake, which reflects either an inability to loose weight or a relapse post surgery. Though not a health hazard, stomach stretching defeats all efforts to maintain weight loss after undergoing bariatric surgery.
How to Minimize Stomach Stretching
After undergoing surgery, stay away from binge eating, as it leads to skewed hunger and fullness signals, giving way to an unending cycle of overeating and stomach stretching. Remember however that overstitching the stomach one in awhile is no big deal. Measure your meals, follow your diet guidelines set by your surgeon or nutritionist, and in the event of any confusion regarding your eating habits, consult your surgeon or your bariatric nutritionist.
Take Fluids After Meals.
Get into the habit of drinking fluids one or two hours before and after meals. Try not to drink water, juices, or carbonated beverages 20-30 minutes before and after a meal, as fluids occupy space in the stomach that ideally should be revered for nutrient rich foods. Drinking fluids at appropriate times helps with easy digestion, without limiting stomach space or building up too much gases. Sugary and carbonated beverages are complete no-no, as they contribute to enlarging the stomach and unhealthy calories.
Avoid Skipping Meals.
Most bariatric patients assume that skipping a meal or two aids their weight loss goals; the reality, however, is the total opposite. Skipping meals meals compromising on your nutrients and calorie intake, which shouldn’t happen after bariatric surgery. Instead, decide what and how much you need to eat to maximize weight loss results after surgery. Pack some healthy snacks to work or try a few protein-rich, bariatric recipes to stay on track with your weight loss goals.
Eat Small Portions.
After undergoing bariatric surgery, eat small portions. Small portions help ensure that your newly created stomach pouch is not overstressed to churn and digest food, helping you avoid weight regain after surgery. If you feel hungry, eat an additional food portion after 2-3 hours or as prescribed by your surgeon or nutritionist. Nonetheless, keep a check on your daily calorie intake.
Say Goodbye to Prospects of a Relapse.
Bariatric surgery facilitates weight loss but only you can minimize or eliminate the possibility of weight regain by avoiding issues such as stomach stretching. The stomach takes time to heal after surgery and deviating from your diet plan increases the likelihood of regaining weight. To avoid such an occurrence, you need to plan your meals, resist temptations to go back to unhealthy foods, and keep in touch with your bariatric surgeon for sustainable weight loss guidance.
If you do not have a bariatric surgeon because you had your surgery in Mexico, then it is best to have your local primary care doctor on board. If you have serious complications that your primary care doctor can not take care then it’s best for them to refer you to a qualified person who knows about bariatric surgery and its complications.
If you need nutritional guidance and do not have a nutritionist post surgery, please check out SUPERFODsyndicate.com or contact me here. I am a certified bariatric and fitness nutritionist who knows about weight loss in both bariatric and non-bariatric patients.