Oesophageal Patients Association
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Weight gain

Hi all

I'm 5 months post ivor Lewis and struggling to maintain my weight, I've lost 4.5 stone in total since operation. I've tried near enough everything but just cannot consume enough calories to maintain myself. I've had two dilatations and having my 3rd today to help increase my intake. Is there anyone who has any advice that will help me,would love to gain a little weight as im getting dangerously low.

5 Replies

Hi Leon I'm almost 8years post op Lost 4 and half stone like yourself Was sent to a dietitian to help me put on weight but to no avail I now am stable and never put any weight back on My surgeon always says I am the lower end of the scale for my height but I'm stable Maybe 2 lbs on holiday and Christmas but always come off again without me trying Got used to it now and classed as a little one ,unlike years ago As long as you feel well that's the main thing Good luck


Five months is quite a short time. I am three years on and I only regained weight after around eighteen months. I used to drink one of those protein supplement drinks and I ate a lot of cheese, cream and butter with my meals. That helped


Hi Leon, I had much the same problem. If you feel that the weight is getting too low, then you could ask advice from your dietician. I chose to have an Nasal Gastric tube to feed directly in to my stomach for a few months, which helped with my weight gain significantly. I used a feed called 'perrative', which was high protein and pumped through the tube overnight.

The other point to consider is that you're only 5 months post op, so you will lose weight. It could be the case that your not able to absorb the calories from the food you're eating. You could try a slow the food transit with Imodium, but check this option with your doctor first.

I hope that helps.



It sounds a lot of weight to lose. It is above average but not as much as some people have lost whilst continuing in good health (there is a survey on this if you look up past polls). It all depends, really, on what weight you were before you started.

When you say 'dangerously low', is this a comparison with how you were before, or is it an objective measure of something like body mass index? Lots of people do settle down into a different, much lower weight that is nevertheless healthy, notwithstanding that we tend to equate lower weight with poor health, and people notice us being lighter and think we look ill. Regaining body weight after surgery is a bit of a symbolic target amongst nutritionists, but many of us have to learn to (politely and diplomatically) ignore this.

The general advice is eat little and often. You might have to raise the frequency of the 'often' part of this. Eating to try and gain weight is normally impossible after this surgery without counter-productive side effects. But concentrate on maintaining your level of minerals and vitamins as a priority. Try something like SlimFast: this sounds completely illogical but it works for many people because it provides for absorption of sustenance without some of the ingredients that might cause dumping. I would advise against food that normally puts on weight (cakes, creamy things, sugary stuff) because it might give you insulin spikes. If they give you diarrhoea they won't stay long enough in your system to get absorbed properly. So try eating stuff intended for diabetics. Sometimes, depending on what you ate before, you might have to start eating all sorts of food that would not have been to your normal taste and preference.

If you are having a dilatation, it might be that the lower pyloric sphincter, the valve at the bottom of your stomach, is to be stretched so that food passes through better and does not remain in your stomach and make you feel permanently full and bloated. So this might indeed make a difference.

Advice from a dietician would be helpful, but do make sure, if you can, that it is a specialist dietician who has lots of experience with the after-effects of this surgery, as sometimes the advice has to be turned on its head compared to orthodox dietary advice.

Try and keep a food diary to monitor what you can and cannot eat successfully. There is a sample, and some diet advice on the OPA website.

The surgery may seem like a long time ago, but you are probably still at a stage when your system is still adapting itself so do not despair; it will get better.

The last resort is to reinstate a feeding tube for a short period, but if you and the doctors can get your system to cope with orthodox eating and swallowing, it tends to be the preferable option.


Hi Leon.

You have already received some excellent advice which I do not need to repeat. What I would stress is the time factor. At your stage in the journey you will be keen to put the operation and after effects behind you and 'get better'. The reality is that recovery, including improvement in digestion and a little weight gain can take many years. I am four years post-op and am still getting stronger, eating better, and my weight is lower than pre op but more like it was 30 years ago. Like you, I was anxious in the early stages and became quite depressed thinking that 'this was it'.......I am now much more positive and am in the pleasant situation of still 'gradually' feeling better even though I am 'gradually' getting older!!

So, it will be hard for you for a time but then it will get better as your body heals. May I wish you the best of luck.


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