We often get asked — “Does your stomach stretch after gastric sleeve surgery?” The simple answer is yes, stomach stretching is normal and is expected to happen, but it is unlikely that it will stretch back to its original size. After gastric sleeve surgery, the capacity of your stomach is reduced significantly. You will get full much quicker than you did before the surgery. Stomach stretching is mostly due to constant overeating, which can lead to a permanent increase in stomach size. As the stomach grows, it demands more food to feel satiated, as hunger and fullness signals are skewed. This is one of the reasons why some people find it difficult to maintain weight loss after one-year post-op. However, there are steps you can take to minimize the risk of stomach stretching after gastric sleeve surgery.
1. Avoid overeating by planning small meals
The best way to prevent overeating is to plan small meals. A great tip is to use small plates to help you with portion control.
2. Eat slowly and chew chew chew
When you take your time eating and focus on chewing, your stomach can properly digest the food. This will allow your body to feel full before you have a chance to overeat.
3. Don’t drink while you eat
Drinking with your meal causes your stomach to fill up faster, which can cause your stomach to stretch. Having your drink 30 minutes before or after your food will give your stomach some time to digest the fluids and food separately.
Avoid carbonated drinks at all costs. The gas can build up pressure in your stomach causing it to expand, which can also be very painful.
4. Schedule small snacks to avoid grazing
It is not uncommon for weight loss surgery patients to develop a grazing habit after surgery. This is because their stomach capacity is a lot smaller, so they can’t have large portions. Grazing is not to be confused with snacking, grazing is usually a mindless habit. Instead, plan small healthy snacks ahead of time to avoid mindless snacking.
5. Make sure you are having enough protein
Protein is an essential part of your post-op diet for muscle building. It also helps to repair other body tissues including skin and major organs. Having enough protein will also keep you fuller for longer to prevent you from overeating, which will help minimize the chances of stomach stretching after gastric sleeve surgery.
Lastly, enjoy food and don’t be afraid of it. Food is not your enemy, you can still eat almost anything, but in moderation. Focus on making progress rather than being perfect. It is okay if you fall off track occasionally, don’t beat yourself up – just get right back on track. Motivation and determination are key to keeping your weight off.
Ready to start your weight loss journey? We can help. Our highly experienced Toronto gastric sleeve surgery specialists and knowledgeable care team are ready to support you — book your free consultation today.