Weight loss takes more than willpower, despite what people say.
No matter what you do, your hormones may be to blame if the weight won’t budge.
Gastric sleeve surgery can help regulate your gut hormones, making weight loss possible and nearly assured.
Bariatric surgeries like the gastric sleeve work several ways to help you lose weight. There are physical changes and hormonal changes.
To understand how a gastric sleeve surgery affects your hormones, it helps to understand which hormones are at play.
Which Hormones Affect Weight Gain/Loss?
Gaining or losing weight involves the same three factors—energy in, energy out, and how your body uses energy (metabolism).
When you eat food, your body receives energy. Your body then uses that energy to operate. Your metabolism dictates how much of the energy you consume gets used. The leftover is stored as fat. At least, that’s the way your metabolism is supposed to work.
When you suffer from obesity, your metabolism slows. You might feel extremely hungry even though you recently ate.
It is frustrating that you might try everything to lose weight. Struggling in the gym does little, and depriving yourself of your favorite foods only makes you hungry. The weight, sadly, stays put.
This is not your fault. And it has nothing to do with willpower.
It’s all about your hormones.
How Does Gastric Sleeve Surgery Affect Your Hormones?
A Gastric sleeve surgery goes by a few different names. You may hear it as the Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy (VSG) or the Laparoscopic Gastric Sleeve. The latter points to the technique used during the surgery. A laparoscopic camera and other serpentine-like tools allow the bariatric surgeon to work without too much cutting being involved.
Learning that gastric sleeve is performed laparoscopically is often a relief for patients. These minimally invasive surgeries require tiny incisions, low risks to your health, and little downtime.
Most bariatric surgeries limit how much food your stomach can store, making you feel fuller and faster during meals. In scientific circles, this limiting of food is known as a restriction. By making it so that you can consume smaller amounts, the excess weight drops off more easily.
The gastric sleeve also works the same way. The surgeon will remove around 75% of your stomach tissue. The leftover tissue is fashioned into a pouch or sleeve, where food will pass to digestion—a smaller stomach forces you to eat less and slower.
There is another mechanism in play with gastric sleeve surgery that helps you lose extreme amounts of weight.
You guessed it; your hormones have changed.
Ghrelin (Hunger Hormone)
Ghrelin, produced in the stomach, signals to your body that it needs energy. The stomach size is reduced during a procedure like the laparoscopic gastric sleeve. Because ghrelin is produced in your stomach, your body’s ghrelin levels are drastically reduced. Your body may tell you to produce more ghrelin, but it won’t be able to because the digestive alterations made during your procedure make secretion impossible.
Ghrelin affects appetite, taste preferences, food perception, and chewing time. Without as much ghrelin, you may crave different types of food. You may crave healthier foods instead of sugary foods like before.
Leptin (Satiety Hormone)
Fat cells produce the hormone leptin. This hormone is responsible for feelings of fullness after eating. Leptin is the opposite of ghrelin. When ghrelin levels go up, leptin levels decrease, and vice versa. The two hormones work harmoniously to ensure your body receives adequate energy.
Satiety Hormone tells the hypothalamus in your brain when your body has enough fat storage and doesn’t need any more food. Leptin also helps to regulate long-term energy balances, which means it retains control over the number of calories we eat and burn and the amount of fat we store.
Leptin is meant to keep you fed without starving or overeating. People with obesity tend to build up leptin resistance. That means the body could produce the fullness hormone, yet the brain could fail to detect it. This can cause the brain to send more ghrelin, making you more hungry. No wonder you tend to overeat.
Gastric sleeve surgery can correct the hormone imbalance in your body, leading to less hunger, more fullness, and significant weight loss.
Gastric Sleeve Surgery Affects Hormones. The pancreas produces insulin and regulates blood sugar levels. When your body lacks insulin, or your insulin sensitivity is impaired, diabetes can result.
This means that after surgery, your blood sugar levels may return to normal. Many patients with type 2 diabetes find that their conditions go into remission, often permanently, post-gastric sleeve.
Obesity is related to infertility in both men and women. Not only is obesity related to ovulatory infertility, but it can also cause abnormalities in reproductive hormones and negatively affect egg quality and endometrial receptivity. Obesity can also make technologies like IVF less effective.
In men, obesity is related to low testosterone, poor sperm count, and erectile dysfunction.
In both sexes, obesity can lead to reduced libido.
Bariatric surgery can improve male and female sexual and reproductive function. There is also evidence for improved birth outcomes after gastric sleeve surgery.
Benefits of Bariatric Surgery Hormonal Changes
After weight loss surgery, the hormonal changes inside your body promote rapid weight loss in several ways. First, you can more easily maintain or enhance how your body expends energy (burns calories). Further, a gastric sleeve can increase the energy your body burns about your body size.
Once the weight begins coming off, additional changes begin taking place. These internal alterations help to reduce defects in fat metabolism. Your body will begin storing less fat. With the excess weight falling off, you will be inspired to engage in more physical activity.
As a side note, more exercise can reduce stress and boost mood. This is excellent if you suffer from psychological barriers to weight loss, such as emotional eating. This is another way the hormones affected by gastric sleeve help you lose weight and keep it off for life.