Anorexia After Gastric Sleeve

The development of an eating disorder is not among the well-known gastric sleeve or gastric bypass surgery side effects. Anorexia after gastric sleeve surgery can happen to anyone. All gastric sleeve patients should have knowledge of the signs of anorexia and how to treat it. 

Gastric sleeve surgery can be a lifeline if you have serious health concerns. It is considered the most effective treatment for severe obesity. However, it is important to remember that any mental and physical struggles you have dealt with regarding food and lifestyle choices before can follow you into post-surgery life. 

Psychological disorders like anorexia are incredibly detrimental as they can affect both mental and physical health. Typically, all bariatric patients are required to meet with a psychologist during the pre-op consultation process. For gastric sleeve patients, anorexia can even hamper the long-term success of the surgery. 

This is why all patients should know the signs and causes of anorexia and how to avoid or treat it.

Signs of Anorexia After Gastric Sleeve Surgery

It is important to know the gastric sleeve long-term side effects as well as the short-term ones. After gastric sleeve surgery, it is very important to listen to the advice and guidelines that your doctor sets out for you. Deviation from their advice can cause various problems later on. 

Anorexia is a common eating disorder that is associated with abnormally low body weight followed by the fear of gaining weight. This obsession with weight results in severe efforts to control it. 

Anorexia after gastric sleeve surgery can also result due to the accelerated weight loss and dietary restriction caused by the surgery itself. This process can increase the risk for development of restrictive eating, such as anorexia.

Anorexia in patients can cause a number of complications after gastric sleeve surgery. Here are some ways to notice that you or someone close to you is struggling with anorexia:

Physical Symptoms

The physical symptoms of a gastric sleeve patient with anorexia are more obvious in some patients than others. A healthy weight is different for each person but if you experience one or more of the symptoms we discuss here, it can be an indication of being abnormally underweight. 

Vomiting can be a side effect after bariatric surgery due to food plugging the stomach pouch. Over time, some individuals find that this evolves into vomiting as a means of controlling weight. 

Another behavior that can develop is chewing and spitting food out, only nibbling at food, and overuse of laxatives. 

Hair loss can be common after bariatric surgery due to the severe changes made to the digestive tract and the adjustments the body is required to undergo. Ensuring that you take you bariatric multivitamins daily for life will help to minimize this hair loss. Hair loss after bariatric surgery that seems abnormal can be a sign of lack of nutrition and undernourishment. This is usually an indication that your body is not thriving and lacking something. 

Fatigue is also a common symptom of being underweight. Your body does not have the energy it requires to fulfill its daily functions. In women, this can also be paired with the loss of the menstrual cycle. 

These are all physical signals your body will send when it is struggling. 

Mental Symptoms

Anorexia is a disorder that largely manifests itself in a particular way of thinking. It distorts a person’s perception about their weight and intensifies fears about gaining weight. Pay attention to the following thought patterns post-surgery.

The most consuming aspect of anorexia is becoming obsessive with food. People who struggle with anorexia will frequently skip meals. This is often masked by a denial of hunger and making excuses for not eating meals. 

Patients with anorexia can often become preoccupied with food by insisting on making elaborate meals for others, but not eating them themselves. They will typically weigh or measure themselves religiously. 

These thought patterns are often paired with social withdrawal and irritability. If you notice any of these patterns in yourself or a loved one, note the possibility of disordered eating. Despite thinking you are doing well by losing more weight after surgery, anorexia can increase your post-gastric sleeve risks.

anorexia after gastric bypass

 

Causes of Anorexia After Gastric Sleeve

Anorexia can be one of the gastric sleeve and gastric bypass after effects where someone has struggled with an eating disorder in their past or, less commonly, where someone develops an unhealthy relationship with food after surgery. 

History of Anorexia

Some patients have a history of eating disorders. This can be triggered again after gastric sleeve surgery.

The first year or two after gastric sleeve surgery is where patients typically experience the most weight loss. After this period, the weight loss can come to a plateau or patients can start to regain weight. If someone has struggled with the mental side of weight gain in the past, this can cause unhealthy behaviors to resurface. 

Some patients may be tempted to return to unhealthy eating patterns. This involves trying to get rid of the regain of weight or prevent it altogether by avoiding eating. This stems from a fear of gaining weight back. 

Anorexia post-surgery can also be a result of patients becoming addicted to weight loss. Further restricting eating after surgery for weight loss efforts can occur. 

It is important to remember that gastric sleeve can physically promote weight loss, but if you struggle mentally with food or body image, it is important to seek professional help. Surgery alone will not improve internal struggles with food. 

Developing Anorexia After Surgery

Developing an eating disorder after gastric sleeve surgery is very rare when someone has not struggled with one in the past. This does not change the fact that it can happen to anyone after surgery. 

This can happen when a patient does not meet their goal weight in the time that they expected to. It is important to stay aware of how you are feeling and learning to notice unhealthy habits in time. 

If you experience any of the symptoms described above, you need to address the problem immediately with your healthcare provider. 

How to Treat Anorexia After Gastric Sleeve

If you have noticed or experienced any of the symptoms associated with anorexia, do not just ignore them. The earlier you address the problem, the easier it will be to manage. Below are some tips to manage and avoid anorexia.

Speaking to a Professional

Speaking to someone who is an expert in eating disorders will help you understand the root of the problem and how to deal with it. This will provide you with valuable tools to take care of your body. 

It is typically required to have a consultation with a psychiatrist before your gastric sleeve surgery to mentally prepare for the weight loss journey. It is never too late to get professional help. 

Make sure you keep in contact with your doctor or a counselor after your surgery who can keep an eye on you. They will also be able to notice if you are dipping below your healthy weight range. 

gastric sleeve anorexia

Building Good Habits 

Having an eating routine will help with disciplined food intake. Try committing to several smaller meals throughout the day to get used to eating again. Eating 6 meals throughout the day may sound daunting, but you can always reach out for help on eating habits from a registered dietitian or qualified healthcare provider.

If you feel you are not consuming enough food variety throughout the day and you may be lacking in protein and nutrients, try incorporating a bariatric meal replacement

Avoid weighing yourself and leave it up to your doctor to watch your weight. Weighing yourself can be triggering if you struggle with an eating disorder. You can ask request that your healthcare provider monitor your weight without sharing numbers with you. 

Pay Attention to Triggers

Learning the signs of anorexia post-gastric sleeve allows identification of unhealthy behaviors. This knowledge ensures you can deal with the disorder at an early stage. 

If you do notice any unhealthy behavior, make notes of internal thoughts and feelings as well as external factors when behaviors arise. This will help you understand the triggers that bring out patterns.

Once you are triggered or experience a sign or symptom, you need to seek medical assistance. 

Final Thoughts

Many patients may not experience long-term side effects after gastric sleeve surgery. However, it is still important to be aware of any possible conditions that might arise, especially if you have a history with eating disorders. 

In rare cases, anorexia can develop after surgery. Make sure you know and understand the signs of anorexia, so that you can deal with it immediately and avoid gastric sleeve and gastric bypass complications years later after your surgery.

 

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**This blog is for information and education purposes only. This information is not intended to substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult with your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions in regards to a medical condition.