woman eating a salad
When you have weight loss surgery (also called bariatric surgery), you need to have all the facts. We want to clear up
myths and misconceptions so that you know what to expect. One sometimes confusing issue that we often talk about with patients is appetite suppression. Understandably, people want to know what their appetite will be like after they have weight loss surgery. 

We will look at this more closely in this post, but the short answer is that it’s different for everyone. Many people have the idea that they will not be hungry at all. While this is true for some, it’s not true for everyone. You will likely still experience some hunger, but it will also probably be less than what you experienced before. Appetites are typically suppressed rather than eliminated completely. Here’s why. 

More about appetite suppression

According to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, bariatric surgery increases the production of certain gut hormones that interact with the brain to reduce hunger, decrease appetite, and enhance satiety (feelings of fullness). Because of these factors, bariatric surgery typically helps produce long-term weight-loss.

When you experience rapid weight loss after surgery, your body goes through many hormonal and biochemical changes. Researchers also believe that the communication between the brain and the process of food digestion in the intestines is disrupted after weight loss surgery. 

Gastric sleeve & appetite suppression

It’s also worth mentioning that the results of gastric sleeve surgery are a little different than with gastric bypass or the LAP-BAND. With gastric sleeve, we cut away and remove part of the stomach. This is where the fundus is located, and the fundus produces the hunger-causing hormone ghrelin. The removal of the fundus and ghrelin significantly reduces hunger sensation in many patients. 

Right after surgery, the combination of swollen tissues and the difference in the amount of ghrelin being produced does often pretty much eliminate hunger and cravings. However, this won’t be permanent. Tissues return to normal, and the reduced ghrelin becomes the new normal that your body adjusts to over time. Many lifestyle factors will also lead to feeling hungrier than you were immediately after surgery, but your appetite will likely still be suppressed. Your hunger levels will eventually fall in line with your new food consumption patterns.

Managing hunger after weight loss

There is a big difference between hunger and cravings. Learning to tell the difference between the two is a big step for long-term weight loss. Even after surgery, you may still experience cravings for trigger foods. For example, you are not hungry at all, but you still want to eat potato chips. This is a craving, not hunger. 

Managing cravings and hunger after weight-loss surgery is very important. We start preparing you for this before your surgery with our pre-surgery diet plans, and you will also have a post-surgery diet plan. 

With a plan, strong willpower, and motivation, managing hunger — whether suppressed or eliminated for a period of time — is possible. Here are some tips that help many of our patients be successful:

  • Eat nutrient-dense foods. Foods that are high in fat and sugar are very low in nutrition. They also provide very little long-term satiety. Nutrient-dense proteins offer large satisfaction in small portions. Focus on lean meats instead of processed ones, and choose whole grains and vegetables for every meal. 
  • Eat slowly. Many of us eat much faster than we should, and our bodies do not register fullness until it’s too late. Instead, eat slowly and chew thoroughly. Your body will be able to catch up and let you know when to stop eating. 
  • Drink water strategically. Drinking water 45 minutes before and after a meal can also help with hunger, especially because we often mistake thirst or hunger. 
  • Have small, frequent meals. This is often key for many of our patients. When you are actually eating more often throughout the day, it can help with hunger and cravings. You don’t feel deprived, and it keeps you feeling satisfied. Five smaller meals often work well, and be sure to never skip meals even if you do not feel hungry.  

While we help prepare you for diet changes before weight loss surgery, it is a big adjustment to manage post-op. Like anything else, you will get used to it. More importantly, your body will adjust. Many patients come to prefer their post-surgery diet plan. To talk more about what to expect regarding appetite and hunger after weight loss surgery, we would love to talk with you about your individual situation. Contact us today!

We will work with you every step along the way on your weight loss surgery eating plan

Birmingham Minimally Invasive Surgery is a caring group of professionals, including nutritionists and dieticians. Give us a call to set up a consultation at 205-833-6907