The ‘Tortoise & the Hare’ effect

Many of us will have grown up hearing Aesop’s Fable about the Tortoise and the Hare. For those of you who haven’t or maybe need a little reminder; it is about a race between two creatures that appear to be at opposite ends of the speed scale. In the fable, the Hare races ahead of the Tortoise, leaving it far behind. However, the Hare thinking that it had gained enough ground decides to take a nap- the Tortoise plods on step after step to eventually win the race by a few seconds.

This fable is often used at weight loss surgery support groups and forums to explain the different speeds of weight loss between the procedures.

The rate at which people lose weight after surgery is extremely variable. Several factors account for this: age, gender, occupation, genes, and dietary restrictions – the list is almost endless. Two people of the same age, gender, height and occupation could have the same surgery on the same day and still lose weight at very different rates.

The surgeries have much in common but there are subtle differences that may determine the rate of weight loss in the initial stages. The gastric bypass and gastric sleeve are the Hare. The gastric band is the Tortoise.

Gastric band patients sometimes wonder why they do not seem to be losing weight at the same rate as someone with either a gastric bypass or sleeve. They may even question if they are doing something wrong. In most cases this couldn’t be further from the truth. Gastric bands tend to have a steadier weight loss in comparison to the other procedures. Meaning that as long as the patient follows the advice given by their bariatric team, regardless of procedure they will get to their goal. In fact many Streamline Surgical’s gastric band patients have noted the same level of weight loss long term as those who had a bypass.

It is really important not to compare yourself to others and to listen to the advice of your bariatric team. Losing weight after bariatric surgery is a journey to a healthier, brighter future – not a race to one.