woman holding her pouch

Does My Pouch Stretch After Bariatric Surgery

Bariatric surgery patients can be concerned that they may “stretch” their pouch post-surgery. Even weight loss surgery patients who are several years after surgery may wonder if their pouch has stretched over the years, since they do not possess the same feeling of satiation as they did in the months following their surgery. Is it possible to stretch your pouch? 

Over time, your pouch will stretch a little all on its own. Yet, it is generally improbable that it will go back to its pre-surgery size. While eating a large meal can lead to feelings of remorse, in addition to the physical signs of being overfull, it is unlikely that you have done any permanent damage to your pouch. Remember that you are in control of your body. With that in mind, here are some tips for maintaining a healthy weight and managing your pouch. 

Don’t Overeat

You cannot return to your pre-surgery way of eating once you have had bariatric surgery. It is vital to follow your registered dietitians’ guidelines for portion sizes, based on how far out from surgery you are. One-year post-op plus, you’ll be able to eat 8 ounces of food, most of it being protein. This is because the smaller pouch makes you feel satiated will less food. Keep track of how much food you are eating to feel full. Avoid second helpings when your stomach has reached its capacity. Also, be mindful of your eating by eating slowly. By being mindful, measuring your food and slowing down while eating, you can prevent stretching your pouch. 

Avoid Skipping Meals

Skipping meals brings on hunger, and hunger can lead to snacking on the first thing you find. These snacks are rarely nutritious. Plan your meals, pack healthy snacks, such as a cheese stick or low carb yogurt, and stay on your eating schedule. Follow your prescribed diet plan. 

Curb Emotional and Stress Eating

Many who struggle with obesity have a tendency to emotionally or stress eat. This happens when you are bored, angry, lonely, stressed or happy – essentially eating to manage feelings. While weight loss surgery curbs your physical hunger, it cannot help your appetite or “head hunger.” Learning to recognize patterns of emotional or stress eating can help ensure that you are only eating when you are hungry and that what you are consuming are the calories your body needs and not what your eyes want.

Protect the Stoma

Your stoma is the actual opening that is left between your upper pouch and your intestine after gastric bypass surgery. If you do not chew your food properly or wash down large pieces of food with liquids, you can stretch your stoma. If you stretch your stoma, food does not stay in your pouch as long. This will result in eating more because you never achieve that full feeling. 

Avoid Carbonated Beverages

Drinking carbonated, fizzy beverages while eating forces your food through the stomach pouch faster than normal. This means that food does not stay in the pouch long, and you quickly lose that full feeling. This increases the chance of eating more. In addition, carbonated beverages release gas that can result in the food forcing its way through your stoma. This will enlarge it, allowing you to eat more at each meal, which defeats the purpose of bariatric surgery. Stick with water, coffee (in moderation), caffeine-free teas and other beverages that have no carbonation.

We need to change the above paragraph to not drinking with your meals. It is recommended that you not drink for 30 minutes after your first bite of food. This is because it pushes the food through a lot faster, causing you to get hungrier earlier on, and in turn, consuming excess calories. I let patient drink carbonated beverages after 6 weeks post-op. 

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