Gastric Sleeve Regrets – 5 Things I Wish I’d Known

Written by Sherry Vickers and medically reviewed by Dr. Stephen Boyce, MD

Gastric sleeve regrets are common, but we rarely hear about them in the beginning. When you first decide to pursue weight loss surgery, you are overwhelmed with the possibility. Suddenly, life doesn’t look so bleak.

The sun begins to climb the horizon casting a healthy glow on your future. Understandably, you try not to spend much time focused on the downside. I mean, what is there to regret about this amazing, life-changing opportunity?

How You Think It Will Go vs. What It Will Actually Be Like

Gastric sleeve surgery seems pretty simple outright. Procedurally, they are just removing a chunk of your stomach so you can’t eat as much. Therefore, you lose weight. It’s like surgical portion control…you can handle that no problem! Right? Here are some of the most common gastric sleeve regrets you may face and what you can do to tackle them head on!

Gastric sleeve weight loss expectations vs reality

Gastric Sleeve Regret #1:

You are eating far less than you ever have. Also, you are restricted on the types of foods you can eat

Which means there are foods that you once enjoyed in bounty that you may never tolerate the same again. Food is hugely emotional; it is linked to strong memories of certain people, places, or holidays.

After gastric sleeve you can't eat the same amounts of foods as you used to be able to

We use it to celebrate, and many of us have used it as an emotional band-aid. Because of the level of restriction created by gastric sleeve surgery, a mindset change is absolutely required for long term success.

The hard truth: Your eyes will almost always be bigger than your stomach. It can be incredibly frustrating to prepare meals that you are only able to eat a few bites of. Dinners out, especially those with multiple courses, will require you to pick and choose what you have a bite of and what you pass.

At first, this isn’t a huge struggle because you’ve been mentally preparing for several months (if not a year or more) AND you are still physically recovering. When your normal appetite returns, the real battle begins.

Personally, this is still something that I wrestle with even at 15 months out. Sometimes it really annoys me that I can’t sit down and eat an entire sub. But then I quickly remember that sitting down to eat entire subs is part of what led me to obesity in the first place.

Gastric Sleeve Regret #2:

You visualize your gastric sleeve results based on a combo of what your doctor tells you and other people’s experiences

So where does the regret come into play? Well, your results will be uniquely yours, and you may not be happy with them.

You may lose quickly, or you may face stalls. Your skin may bounce back with you or you may end up with excess. Certain areas of your body may seem to disappear overnight whereas others may feel like they won’t budge.

Your personal results depend on many things:

  • age
  • biological sex
  • starting weight
  • body type
  • genetics
  • commitment to following your nutrition plan
  • exercise habits

The hard truth: You won’t know what your results will be until you are in the thick of your journey.

This is why it is so important not to create expectations for your weight loss journey based on someone else’s outcome. Their results will almost always be different from yours because they are not you!

Gastric Sleeve Regret #3:

You aren’t losing weight as fast as you thought you would

After gastric sleeve you aren't losing weight as fast as you thought you would

Most of us know someone who has undergone gastric sleeve surgery and it seems like the weight just fell right off ‘em. But most likely, you watched their journey over the course of months or years. Or, you only see the before and after end results. I promise you, they struggled too.

The hard truth: Weight loss surgery isn’t a fast pass to thinness. It takes mindfulness, habit change, and strict adherence to your eating plan in order to produce the results you want. The more compliant you are, the quicker you will lose.

Remember, stalls are normal and should be expected. But if you are going weeks on end with no results, take a look at your lifestyle. Chances are, you haven’t been reaching your nutritional goals. So, make sure you are keeping an eye on your calories, drinking your water, and keeping your body moving!

Gastric Sleeve Regret #4:

You’re riding a roller coaster of side effects and thinking you most certainly did NOT sign up for this!

Serious surgical side effects are rare, but your doctor should discuss these in detail with you. The real pain in the gut are the little things that didn’t seem like a big deal until they struck. As a result of gastric sleeve surgery, you can experience some pesky side effects such as nausea, gas pain, belching, incision pain, indigestion, and general gastrointestinal unrest.

Common side effects after gastric sleeve can be unpleasant

Keep in mind that you have just had a major surgery!

The hard truth: Your anatomy has been teetered with and you and your new stomach need time to heal and adjust. Most of the side effects are temporary and your surgery team will prescribe you medications to combat them prior to your surgery date.

Regardless of any side effects I was confronted with…I still have zero regrets!

Gastric Sleeve Regret #5:

You thought weight loss would make you happy, so why do you feel so blue?

I have actually heard this said, “Why did I even have surgery? If I knew I was still going to feel as miserable, I would have just stayed fat and sometimes happy.”

This is a classic regret from someone who thought that having gastric sleeve surgery was going to magically change their life.

The hard truth:

When you decide to claim your life back from obesity, you have to face yourself head-on. You will learn that happiness is not tied to weight loss.

But something miraculous happens when you put in the effort and see your physical body change. You will start to care about your mental health, and you’ll start chasing self-love!

If you’ve ever seen popular shows showcasing obesity and weight loss surgery, you’ll notice that patients are often sent to a therapist for help tackling the tough issues. Therapy has been a huge help for me. I encourage you to use therapy as a resource for help, especially if you have endured any type of major loss, neglect, violence, emotional, physical, or sexual abuse.

Being exposed to these types of abuse can cause deep and long-lasting wounds that are impossible to work through on your own.

There is no shame in talking with a professional about the things that you have dealt with in your life. Even if you haven’t suffered through abuse, talking to a therapist about your obesity is a wonderful tool to help you identify triggers, set attainable goals, work through setbacks, vent frustrations, and share successes.

Is The Good Bigger Than The Regret? Of Course It Is!

The pros of gastric sleeve surgery outweigh the cons

You know how the saying goes – nothing changes if nothing changes. So, what have you got to lose? Sure, you may run into a few snags along the way. People may not be as supportive as you’d like. Your skin may not look like you thought it would. You might face a few physical setbacks. But you get the opportunity to take your life back completely!

There is a quote that says, “You can be the prettiest, juiciest, ripest peach in the orchard, and there will still be someone who doesn’t like peaches.”

Right?!! You will NEVER be everyone’s cup of tea. So just focus on being YOU. Be a YOU that you are proud of. Embrace your quirks. Own your crazy. Be so YOU that other people feel comfortable to be themselves around you.

What does this have to do with weight loss surgery? EVERYTHING.

Because your entire life is about to change. People are going to notice your outward transformation and they will watch you. Some of them aren’t going to like it. Not everyone will be happy for you. And that’s okay. Your purpose in life is not to make everyone else happy.

You’re going to break old habits, make healthy choices, reach goals you never thought you could, wear clothes you’ve never been able to wear before, and be challenged mentally every single day.

Having gastric sleeve surgery is one of the most important investments you’ll ever make.

Investing in becoming your truest self, indisputably, is one of the most valuable self-care actions you can ever take! And there is no better time to start than right now.


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What are your tips and tricks to post-bariatric success?

Share your thoughts or questions in the comments below – we want to hear from you!


  1. I am 14 months out from my sleeve. I have been going through a lot of what you have talked about. I hate to exercise, always have. It is more difficult to even try because I am in so much pain. My joints hurt before I lost 80 pounds. My husband’s sister passed from cancer in Feb. of this year, I was 206. Since then with covid have gained 20. My ankles have started hurting rather severly at times, can barley walk. I am already on pain meds. Husband is 3 months ahead of me and has kept off most of his 150 lb. loss since we began the program. We are 62.

  2. I lost about 50 pounds within a few months. It took me 5 years to lose the last 50. I will never be sorry that I had the sleeve done. It was easy healing and little by little I slowly began to eat more. I eat anything I want, drink soda pop, etc. The trick is portion size. I am holding my weight where I want it. Later on I would like to lose another 40 pounds, but right now I am very happy. I am diabetic but don’t have to take anything about it anymore, just watch my diet. The sleeve is just a tool, a very important tool. I think people don’t use it properly and let themselves drift back to their old bad habits. I am 75 years old and am very happy with myself.

    1. Jean,
      I am 55 and considering the sleeve in a couple weeks. I feel like at my age its not all about being skinny but healthy. One big concern i have is the excess skin. Did you have issues with it ? I mean, I know i’ll have it but I’m hoping not too much. Dont need any more surgeries!
      Any info would be greatly appreciated.
      Good luck with future weight loss and good health!

  3. For the first time Sense my surgery I have gained 20 lbs now I am having a hard time getting it off. I have been eating a high protein meals and some days I just have a protein shake and than a meal at around 5 and if I get hungry before bed I have a diet Greek yogurt please help

    1. I’m glad you found it helpful, Kathy! Thanks for commenting. I’ve always found it helpful to hear another perspective from someone going through the same thing I am!

  4. I want to thank you all for sharing my name is Joanne I am 52 years old and I have a gaxgfic sleeve scheculed for this Tuesday Sept 29th I am second thinking I am hearing abt hair loss has anyone experienced it

    1. Hair loss after bariatric surgery is normally a temporary thing! Going through surgery, rapid weight loss and everything that comes with bariatric surgery is super stressful on the body. A natural response for the body is to prioritize other bodily functions and put hair growth on “hold” so to speak.

      Check out this article for a deep dive into hair loss after bariatric surgery (let us know what you think!):

  5. I am 58 and scheduled for a gastric sleeve on 12/03/20.
    I was not told about hair loss! I am doing a no carb no sugar diet to prepare. Day 2 and feeling okay… we’ll see about tonight!

    1. Hi Rachelle! Congrats on making the decision to get sleeved in December! It’s a great journey that will change your life 🙂

      Hair loss is normally only temporary (from the physical stress of the surgery). Just make sure you take the right vitamins and the right amount and you’ll be fine long-term!

      Here’s an article that goes into more detail about their loss post-op:

  6. I’m just finishing all my clearances and hope to be scheduled in December 2020. I’m afraid of only one thing and that is … the eating disorder will still be there after I recover. I’m worried about stupid things like never eating a rib-eye again. The anxiety of wanting to eat but not being able to is a real fear to me. Will I go out of my mind? Do you know of anyone who went nuts because of appetite v.s. capacity?

    1. Hey Barbara! Your concern is shared with thousands of bariatric patients. The long-and-short of it is that bariatric surgery is a tool for you to use to help you lose the weight you need to lose. Bariatric surgery works. That’s a fact! But the long-term successful patients take the time post-op to learn the habits that will keep the weight off long-term.

      Try your hardest to implant in your brain WHY you’re having surgery. Check out the articles here to help you see the map of your journey to come:

      If you have any questions feel free to reach back out to us!

      – Derek

  7. Addition to my previous comment….
    I am 66, riddled with arthritis, two bad knees, bad thumbs, severe lower back pain and a right shoulder that is beginning to be a problem. My plan is to have the sleeve, lose the weight, work out and get strong enough to ensure a good recovery after I have my knees replaced. My biggest motivation is that I won’t have high blood pressure or cholesterol problems or medications any more. I have just become a Grandma for the first time and I want to be able to play with and be a part of my grandson’s life in a way that he’ll remember. I want to dance again. Meet a man again. I want to enjoy my life and not retire into a wheelchair.

  8. I am 53 and just had the sleeve on December 14th of 2020. Full of regrets right now. I can’t eat and not have pain. I loved to eat. It’s all head stuff for me. I want to eat and it sucks right now. My wife had the by pass and she is doing good. My daughter has lost over 100 lbs with a sleeve. The are not about six months ahead of me. Very depressing right now. Lost 20 lbs the first week and nothing since!!

  9. Hi all I just had the sleeve done on jan.19th almost a week ago n I was doing great with it but now I’m haven some discomfort n I’m not sure why or wat I did this sucks big time can anyone tell me wat it’s from? N I’m haven trouble meeting my water requirements I hope it will get ezer as time goes on I take walks alot n I’m activated I just wonder when I’ll see a difference in my weight . Also I dnt care for some of the food u must eat any ideas on wat I cld change with the food ?

  10. Hi all I just had the sleeve done on jan.19th almost a week ago n I was doing great with it but now I’m haven some discomfort n I’m not sure why or wat I did this sucks big time can anyone tell me wat it’s from? N I’m haven trouble meeting my water requirements I hope it will get ezer as time goes on I take walks alot n I’m activated I just wonder when I’ll see a difference in my weight . Also I dnt care for some of the food u must eat any ideas on wat I cld change with the food ?

    1. Hi I’m Montez ,I wanted to have the lap band sugery can’t find anyone that does them anymore.thinking about the sleeve I’m a dibetic would love to stop my meds.are you feelin better would you have it done again.

  11. I am contemplating the gastric sleeve. I had the band for about 6 years and had it loosened about 2 years ago. I would throw up almost daily, lost a lot of hair because I couldn’t take big pills they would get stuck. Do any of you wish you hadn’t had the surgery?

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