Ask A Doc: Can the stomach pouch stretch out after weight loss surgery?

Dr. Steven Simper performs weight loss surgery, including gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy, duodenal switch and band procedures in Salt Lake City, Utah. Doctors from around the country have come to him for instruction in the latest weight loss surgery techniques. Patients who have experienced challenges following a previous weight loss surgery procedure also rely on him for safe and effective surgical revision. In this article, Dr. Simper offers his advice and guidance to help patients who undergo gastric bypass surgery and addresses concerns about having their stomach pouch stretched out.

Question from a weight loss surgery patient:

I am very confused. Can my stomach be stretched out after a gastric bypass? I have heard, “No, only the small opening stretches,” and I have heard that “the stomach can stretch.” How do I know if I have done this? If I have stretched out anything, will it go back? I am not drinking any carbonation. Help! Have I ruined my surgery?

Dr. Steven Simper’s answer:

The answers to your questions are not simple yes or no answers. There is controversy over what happens to allow people to eat more with time. In some people, the pouch stretches and therefore, holds more food. In others, the outlet (the new stomach opening) gets bigger. Therefore, the pouch empties quickly allowing them to eat more. In some people, both these things occur.

Almost everyone can eat more with time. You need to learn portion control to be successful long-term. The key is what you eat and how you eat, rather than how much you eat—although, quantity is important too.

Here are some tips to help you with long-term weight loss success:

  • Stick with three meals each day. Avoid snacking.
  • Eat a diet high in vegetables and proteins. Avoid eating high carbohydrate, high calorie foods.
  • Avoid soda.
  • Be active and exercise regularly.
  • Strive for an overall healthy lifestyle.

Does the stomach shrink again if you watch your diet? The answer is unknown, but in my experience it does shrink some and remain smaller if you watch your portions. Even if it does not, eating right and exercising will help you keep your weight off.

Steven Simper, M.D., F.A.C.S

Bariatric, Vascular and General Surgeon

Rocky Mountain Associated Physicians


If you are experiencing any of these problems, be sure to schedule an appointment with your surgeon or dietitian to help you get back on track. Although a small amount of weight regain is common, it is important to address any significant weight regain early on. For an appointment with your surgeon call 801-268-3800. For an appointment with the dietitian call 801-268-7479.

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