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Gastric Sleeve Stretching: Is A Stretched Stomach After Gastric Sleeve Possible?

Many patients wonder if they will experience stomach stretching after getting the gastric sleeve. This is a curious question for patients, especially once they know how gastric sleeve surgery works.

So is a stretched stomach after gastric sleeve possible, and why would it happen? Let’s take a look.

How Does Gastric Sleeve Surgery Work?

The gastric sleeve is a procedure that is growing in popularity. It has overtaken the gastric bypass as the most popular bariatric procedure as more and more surgeons become proficient in performing the procedure.

The gastric sleeve works by surgically altering the stomach so it’s in the shape of a tube. The tube-shaped stomach also doesn’t produce nearly as much ghrelin, or hunger hormone, due to how the stomach is altered. A part of the stomach that produces ghrelin is removed. This leads the patient to feel much less hungry before and during meals.

Stomach Stretching After Gastric Sleeve: Is It Normal?

The answer is yes: your stomach will stretch a little bit after getting the gastric sleeve. In fact, it’s supposed to. Stomachs naturally stretch during normal operation, even before surgery. When you eat, your stomach stretches to fit the volume.

But can you permanently stretch your stomach? The jury is still out on that.  Some evidence suggests that this is possible. In fact, slight, permanent stretching may be normal. As you are able to eat more food (especially when meeting protein goals), your new stomach may stretch slightly, but this happens over a very long period of time- several years.

What you don’t want is your stomach to stretch too much.  Your stomach adapts to the volume of food you take in at one time. A normal stomach can stretch greatly in one sitting, however after the gastric sleeve you no longer have a normal stomach. Your stomach cannot hold nearly as much food as it used to. Therefore, it’s important that you only eat until you are satisfied, NOT until you are full.  

How To Avoid Stomach Stretching After Gastric Sleeve Surgery

Don’t eat too much in one sitting.  In addition, eat more slowly, take your time.

Don’t drink during meals. You may have made a habit of drinking water or soda with a meal. However, this increases the amount of contents in your stomach at one time. Now, you’ll want to drink between meals. It’s important to stay hydrated, but don’t drink your beverage with your meal.

Make a habit out of small, frequent meals. This is the best way to prevent stomach stretching after gastric bypass while still getting all the nutrients you need. Eat 5-6 snack-size meals per day of low-calorie whole foods like eggs, chicken breast, low-fat yogurt, and mixed vegetables.