Not feeling full immediately after bariatric surgery

One thing I keep seeing mentioned from recent post-op bariatric patients is a worry that they are not feeling full after eating soon after surgery. I had the same worry after my surgery for a while but it’s not until I saw other people talking about it that I remembered that I did worry about it. Since it’s something that keeps coming up I wanted to talk about it and don’t worry, your tummy is not broken there is a really simple explanation for this.

During your bariatric surgery, whichever one you have, your stomach will be cut and things will be changed up a bit. In this process the nerves are affected, literally sliced through, and it seems to be quite common that it can take up to a few months after surgery for you to get the feeling back in that area. I guess the nerves need to become friends again and once they are communicating again things start to feel normal again.

Following your surgery you will be just on liquids, then on the puree diet, then on a soft foods diet. After you have progressed through all of these phases you will move towards your new normal and that looks a little differently for all of us. As I went through all of these stages the way my body responded changed and evolved and while at some point I got the feeling back in my tummy it did change over time.

Straight after my surgery I couldn’t really feel much and this, in part, is why it’s so important to measure out everything you eat. I never felt full but went by the suggested serving size and if I started to lose interest in the food or if I had eaten my portion then that was it. When I was in the soft foods stage I started to get a tight feeling at the top of my tummy which I came to recognise as my new full feeling. It was almost like a heavyness in my chest and certainly wasn’t like any full feeling I had had before. Then as time has gone on and I have regained more feeling back I have more normal feelings and cues that I’m feeling full.

There are a couple of weird ones that I have heard other patients experience a bit further out from surgery too. If I start sneezing or my nose starts running I now take that as a full sign. It seems our tummies and sinuses are linked and they influence each other. The main thing is, no matter how weird, you figure out what your signals are and listen to them.

If you are recently post-op and are worrying that you never feel full please don’t freak out. Your tummy isn’t broken, your pouch has been made small enough and the feeling will come back. There really is a process of relearning your body after surgery and it’s complicated by the fact that things change as time goes on but you will get used to it.

One thing I really enjoy after my surgery is how much more in tune I am with my body in general and how great it is to be able to pick things up far quicker than I ever would have before. I think a big thing that contributed to my obesity was a lessening of awareness of the cues my body was sending which then in turn skewed my perceptions on portion sizes and how much food I really needed. Now I know when I need to stop and that inner voice telling me to stop is very loud and I listen to it!

My main take away point from this is to take the time to get to know your body and relearn those cues as you go along. Your surgery did work and your tummy is small enough! Did you have the same loss of feeling after your bariatric surgery? Comment below and let me know.

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There are 9 comments for this article
  1. Pam at 8:24 am

    I completely agree with your comments in your article that’s really true about not feeling full enough for not knowing the signs of fullness. That was a real fear for me in fact I think I started to to be paranoid and think that the surgeons didn’t really perform the op at all and that they went out to lunch while I was on the operating table and my stomach hasn’t been made smaller. It’s been six days since my op. I do notice a Slight twinge when I’m eating well drinking I think that’s a sign of fullness but I’m pleased to know that eventually the nerves in my stomach will be able to give me clear signals about fullness and thank you for the information about measuring everything. Really great blog
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    • Melissa Peaks Author at 7:33 pm

      I hope your recovery continues to go well Pam! I’m really pleased to hear you found my post useful. It’s not something that many surgical teams seems to warn people about and I hear so many worrying about it that I really needed to write about it. Just keep listening to your body and really use this time to get to know it again.

  2. Stephanie at 9:40 pm

    Reading this just put me at ease. Thank you for writing this! I’m happy I found it. I’m 5 weeks post from gastric sleeve and from about 3 days after the surgery until now, I don’t feel full and always feel intense pain from hunger. I had the same fear as Pam, maybe they didn’t perform the surgery, even though I have 5 laparoscopic holes in my abdomen. It puts me at ease to know it’s just the nerves that haven’t connected yet. I was afraid this would be the rest of my life, always hungry but not being able to physically fulfill it. I honestly don’t understand why they don’t warn you about this or why they don’t warn you about a lot of things that happen post surgery. I understand everyone is different but they should just give you some general info about things that could happen to help ease anxiety.

    • Melissa Peaks Author at 12:53 pm

      I’m so glad to hear this put your mind at ease Stephanie. I guess until you’ve gone through the process there’s so much you don’t know about what could happen. Not feeling full is something they should warn people about through because it’s terrifying to think it’s going to be like that forever. I hope your recovery is going well.

  3. Sheralee Carpenter at 7:30 pm

    Hi Melissa, I’m so relieved to read this blog and I’m exactly the same as Stephanie and Pam. (so good to read their comments!) I’m exactly 2 weeks post surgery sleeve, and haven’t once felt full. I too was thinking maybe they didn’t make the sleeve small enough, maybe it wasn’t done at all? I said to my husband, I’ll be the only one in the history of WLS to not lose any weight! I’m told to keep up the protein and water intake, which I’ve been doing, and I’m sticking to the recommended portions, but inside I’m thinking, I could’ve gone hungry without an operation and saved myself some $$. Someone said the ‘hunger’ feeling is all in my head now – but I have my doubts. I take my half hour to eat my meal, and I’m always ‘not hungry’, but never full, which I guess is a good thing. I’m obviously not one of those people who can barely get 2 Tlbsp of food in, but having read your post and the following comments, I’m feeling like I can trust the process and most of all – I’m not the only one! Thank you!

    • Melissa Peaks Author at 12:30 pm

      Hey Sheralee, I think every single one of us thinks we will be the only WLS patient ever to not lose weight. I remember the thought crossed my mind more than once. You’re on the right track, keep on sticking to your recommendations and everything will come right. Your hunger will have changed. Now is the time to really pay attention to your body, be reflective and see how things are different for you now. Things will continue to move and change in your first year before they settle down, you’ll be kept on your toes. Best of luck, it’s an exciting time and you won’t believe the good things that are coming for you.

      • Stephanie friedman at 1:46 pm

        Hi Melissa, thank you for responding to me. I see other people are struggling with the same issues as well. I’m assuming you went through all of this a while ago, but do you recall about how long it took for that hungry feeling to subside. I know everyone is different and our bodies all take different amounts of time to heal, but It helps to ease my anxiety by hearing time frames. Thank you again.

        • Melissa Peaks Author at 6:31 pm

          I didn’t feel hungry after my bypass. I think the different procedures (and of course we’re all different) have different outcomes immediately after. I was the opposite in that I didn’t feel hungry and for the first six months or so had to remind myself to eat or I would forget occasionally. The first couple of weeks after my surgery were tough mentally, coming to grips with what I’d done and having such strict limits imposed immediately. It’s all a blur now to be honest but you will be okay. It will happen on your timeline but if you’re particularly concerned about anything get in touch with your surgical team.

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