Holiday Weight Gain: How Weight Loss Surgery Can Help

Holiday weight gain is not limited to people who struggle with obesity. The average American gains between one and two pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, research shows. Not surprisingly, however, people who are overweight or obese tend to gain more – up to five pounds – during the holidays.

Packing on a couple of extra pounds after indulging in too much fruitcake and eggnog may not sound like a big deal, but those Christmas calories can add up over time. Consider a 30-year old who gains an additional five pounds each holiday season. Without taking action to curtail the trend, those extra calories will result in a 50-pound weight gain by the time he or she is 40 years old. Research also shows that it is harder to lose weight the older you get, particularly for women after menopause.

Weight loss surgery is a proven treatment for the management of obesity for people who are at least 80 to 100 pounds overweight. Weight loss surgery restricts the amount of food you can comfortably consume at one sitting, which in turn restricts your caloric intake. Most patients lose weight rapidly within the first 12 to 18 months – often a pound a day or more – and are much less likely to gain additional weight during the holidays.

Gastric bypass, gastric sleeve, and adjustable gastric banding (Lap-Band) surgery are the most common forms of bariatric surgery. Each procedure has a track record of success and is effective for achieving significant weight loss for patients who have a body mass index (BMI) of 35 or higher. Gastric bypass surgery can have the added effect of dumping syndrome, which can result in painful cramping, diarrhea or vomiting that is often triggered by eating foods high in sugar. Many patients actually consider this side effect a benefit, as it prevents them from consuming too many sweets during the holidays and throughout the year, helping them keep the weight off for the long term.

To have a lasting effect, weight loss surgery patients must stay mindful of their new eating habits even years after their procedure. Bariatric surgery can result in rapid and dramatic weight loss, but it is not a miracle cure. You still need to eat a healthy diet, keep portion sizes small, and follow the guidelines for pouch management to ensure you do not regain weight over time. Getting regular exercise – even walking for 30 minutes a day – can also help you maintain a normal BMI and increase your longevity after weight loss surgery.

If you gained a couple of extra pounds this holiday season, you need not be overly concerned. Cutting back on fatty foods and sweets for a few weeks and increasing your physical activity can help you shed the excess weight within a month or two. But, if you have struggled with obesity for several years and have not been able to lose the weight with diet and exercise alone, weight loss surgery may be your best option. We invite you to attend one of our upcoming informational sessions or call our office to schedule a consultation with Dr. Provost to learn whether bariatric surgery is right for you.

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