Unexplained weight loss after WLS

on 4/26/17 2:20 pm - Baltimore, MD

So I will try not to get too far in the weeds here with this tale, but I want to tell it far and wide as a caution to others. Bottom line: unexplained weight loss is usually a sign of trouble.

Now let me first qualify that before I tell my story.

  • If you've had surgery recently and you're losing weight, your weight loss is not unexplained
  • If you've had surgery a long time, and you continue to work toward your weight loss with increased activity and calorie/portion control, your weight loss is not unexplained

But if you are not doing anything that should result in weight loss, your weight loss is unexplained. And usually folks are advised if they have significant, unexplained weight loss to consult their doctor.

Here's the problem with that.

Even at my rock-bottom post-surgery weight the BMI had me in the overweight category. So I've always been advised to "lose a little weight." (Which I ain't mad at...I used to get told to lose a LOT of weight lol)

But last year I began losing weight for no good reason. I wasn't working out more (and in fact was working out less), I wasn't eating less or differently (and in general now my eating is fairly unrestricted and intuitive so I eat a bit of everything), and yet I dropped about 16 lbs in a month and a half.

That's not normal.

So I went to see my primary care physician and got, "Yay! You lost weight!"

I was troubled by this.

I called my bariatric office and got, "Way to go on battling regain!"

I was even more troubled by that.

In tandem, I was also working with a doctor to research some weird things going on in my right boob.

The end result of that test: I had breast cancer. One of the things I was asked right after my diagnosis? "Have you had any unexplained weight loss?"


Thankfully, my cancer was only Stage 0. I had a bilateral mastectomy and I am now fine.

But I wanted to tell that story because sometimes our need to lose weight can cloud other things going on with our bodies.

In the months and first few years after WLS, our weight loss is pretty well explained. But if you ever, in the long-term, have unexplained weight loss. Go see your doctor. Push for an answer. It may be nothing...but it may not.

RNY Gastric Bypass 1-8-08 350/327/200 (HW/SW/CW). I spend most of my time playing with my food over at Bariatric Foodie - check me out!

on 4/26/17 3:01 pm
RNY on 03/20/17

Well told cautionary tale. Thanks for sharing it. I imagine there must have been some patients at some time that we're losing a lot of weight in their honeymoon phase AND had a an unexplained weight loss medical issue going on at the same time.

on 4/26/17 3:55 pm - Canada

Glad you are OK, and doing well. Thank you for the story. You are right.....even though we are different now, we still need to question things that just don't seem right .

  SW- 260    GW- 150    CW -138    Height - 5'5      RNY- St Josephs Hamilton July 17/2015  

on 4/26/17 4:21 pm
RNY on 08/11/14

Thank you for sharing your story.

RNY 8/11/14 with Dr. Kelvin Higa PS Lipectomy 4/12/17 with Dr. John Burnett HW291.4/CW165/GW150

Mahalo F.
on 4/26/17 6:41 pm

Thanks for sharing! I am glad that you are okay!

Roux En Y - Jan. 4, 2017

HW 283 SW 260 CW 165


on 4/26/17 7:44 pm

Thank you so much for sharing.. I'm not sure I would have put that together but I definitely will be more aware in the future... thank you! So much for tunnel vision!

on 4/27/17 9:07 am - Baltimore, MD

Oh I totally did NOT put that together!

The way it played out was more like I was investigating this other stuff (including the strange boob stuff) and they kept asking if I had any out of the ordinary symptoms. I'd tell them I am losing weight without trying and everyone would start congratulating me.

My bariatric surgeon suggested maybe I'm doing stuff to lose weight that I'm not aware of. I was like, "Dude...if I was putting in the effort...I'd be aware of it!

When they asked me after my diagnosis if I'd had unexplained weight loss, that was the first time I connected those dots. My cancer doctor thinks it was probably some sort of change in my metabolism because my body knew something wasn't right.

Alas...the weight I lost...I found it again once the cancer was resolved! Again...same eating pattern as always, same fitness pattern...

RNY Gastric Bypass 1-8-08 350/327/200 (HW/SW/CW). I spend most of my time playing with my food over at Bariatric Foodie - check me out!

on 4/27/17 7:07 pm

You know...you kept going about it...you KNOW your body... you saved yourself.. and very possibly some of us! You really are your own best expert.. be proud

on 4/28/17 6:00 am - Baltimore, MD

Y'know you're right. I'm gonna be proud!

Thanks. ;)

RNY Gastric Bypass 1-8-08 350/327/200 (HW/SW/CW). I spend most of my time playing with my food over at Bariatric Foodie - check me out!

on 4/27/17 6:48 am - Titusville, FL
RNY on 05/02/17

Thank you for sharing. Glad to hear you are doing okay now.

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