Can Water Stretch Your Stomach After a Gastric Bypass?

ilekstuntkite/iStock/Getty Images

Gastric bypass surgery creates a tiny pouch that helps morbidly obese patients lose their excess weight because the procedure forces them to limit the size of their meals. Overstretching the pouch can expand it over time and eventually allow you to eat more at a sitting than you might otherwise be able to do. However, drinking liquids cannot cause this problem because the liquids pass through your system without restriction. In fact, you should drink plenty of water after surgery to prevent dehydration.

Gastric Bypass Procedure

Gastric bypass procedures help morbidly obese patients lose weight in two ways. Considered a combination procedure, the surgery reduces the size of the stomach to an egg-shaped pouch, which limits the amount of food the patient can eat at one sitting. The procedure also reroutes the digestive system so that food bypasses part of the small intestine, blocking some calorie absorption. Most patients lose significant amounts of weight after gastric bypass if they follow their surgeons' instructions regarding diet and exercise.

Guidelines After Gastric Bypass

Patients who maintain their weight loss after surgery generally follow several important principles. They focus on high-quality foods, especially protein-rich foods, to achieve a sense of fullness that lasts for several hours. They drink plenty of water between meals to prevent dehydration but do not drink any fluids during meals. They track their food to maintain accountability and they avoid sugary, fatty and empty-calorie foods.

Over-Stretching the Pouch

Immediately after surgery, your pouch holds about 1 oz. of food, but it will gradually stretch as you begin to eat solid foods. Normal stretching to a capacity of 2 to 8 oz. will not affect your weight loss. Liquids such as water pass directly through your digestive system, so they will not cause overstretching. To avoid overfilling your pouch, stop eating solid food when you begin to feel full and never force yourself to eat more than you want or need. If your pouch stretches too much over time, you will lose the feeling of fullness after eating a small meal and could regain the weight you lost.

Drinking During Meals

Always stop drinking water and other fluids 20 to 30 minutes before you begin your meal and do not resume drinking until 30 minutes after the meal. Drinking during your meal will wash the food through your system too quickly and you will feel hungry much sooner than you would have if you had only eaten solids during the meal. Because you feel hungry again, you may overeat and eventually gain weight. Drinking water during your meal cannot overstretch the pouch because the water moves on through your system.