How much weight can I expect to lose after weight loss surgery and how long will this weight loss take?

The amount of weight that you lose and the amount of time it takes to lose the weight depends on a number of factors including the type of weight loss surgery that you choose and how committed you are to maintaining a healthy lifestyle after the surgery.

With LAP-BAND/REALIZE™ band surgery, an average patient loses 36% to 40% excess body weight within one year with an average of 60% to 65% excess weight loss at 3-5 years.

With gastric bypass, an average patient experiences 70% to 80% excess weight loss at one year.

With sleeve gastrectomy or gastric sleeve surgery, weight loss falls in between the LAP-BAND/REALIZE™band and gastric bypass.

Again, this answer depends on the surgery that you have chosen. The gastric sleeve surgery is not reversible. Gastric bypass is reversible but not easily done. The LAP-BAND/REALIZE™, however, is more easily reversed.

It is important to remember, however, that such surgery is considered a lifetime commitment and the reversal of any procedures will likely result in weight gain.

The dietary guidelines provided following surgery are essential for success. First and foremost, they are meant to allow your body to heal from surgery. Going forward, they are meant to help you lose weight appropriately. Any deviation from the dietary guidelines can result in a slow down in weight loss and sickness. “Dumping syndrome” – symptoms experienced when surgery patients eat too much or consume high-fat or high-sugar foods – can include fatigue, sweating, diarrhea, and vomiting.

Losing an excessive amount of weight often means that weight loss surgery patients are left with excess, saggy skin, which can be both uncomfortable and unsightly. Plastic surgery is available to remove this excess skin but, because this is typically considered a cosmetic surgery, it is most often not covered by insurance.

However, there are some cases in which the removal of excess skin is considered medically necessary such as when the skin is causing rashes or ongoing infection. So it’s important to check with your insurance carrier or human resources department to determine if insurance coverage might be available to you.

Weight loss surgery changes your body in many ways and, in the case of alcohol consumption, you will find that alcohol affects you much faster than before your surgery. We suggest to our patients that they avoid drinking alcohol for the first year following their surgery because it is high in calories and can slow weight loss. After the first year, as long as your doctor approves, small amounts of alcohol from time to time may be just fine.

We ask our patients who smoke to quit six to eight weeks prior to their weight loss surgery as smoking can complicate the surgical procedure itself and inhibit recovery.

Of course, we also encourage our patients to continue to avoid cigarettes in the long term as smoking does not fit with a new, healthier lifestyle.

Exercise is not only important; it is essential to your success following weight loss surgery. Of course, exercise burns calories, which is important for weight loss. But exercise also builds and preserves muscle, which is an important component to losing weight. You don’t want to lose muscle mass and strength as you drop pounds. We encourage our patients to follow a regular exercise routine following their surgery and we will work with you to determine what is most appropriate for you.

We recommend that patients refrain from getting pregnant for at least one year following surgery. During this time, you will be losing weight very rapidly and such weight loss can be harmful for a pregnancy. After the first year, when you have returned to a regular diet – and are at a healthier weight – you have a much better chance for a healthy pregnancy.

Sometimes, rapid weight loss – such as occurs following weight loss surgery – results in a lowered intake of protein and zinc. In turn, this can cause some weight loss surgery patients to lose some hair following their procedures. That’s why we recommend that our patients consume adequate amounts of a protein daily and also take a daily zinc supplement. Our weight loss team will work with you to recommend the appropriate supplements and vitamins to take following surgery.