If you have a hiatal hernia, you know how painful and difficult this condition can be. Managing hiatal hernias through dietary and lifestyle changes is the preferred treatment approach. However, some people require surgery in severe cases. While it can help reduce pain and discomfort, this type of procedure can have some short-term side effects. Weight loss after hiatal hernia surgery is one of the most common. Here’s what you need to know about managing your weight after the procedure.

Understanding Weight Loss After Hiatal Hernia Surgery

Why can you expect to drop a little weight after this type of surgery? The condition directly affects your digestive system, so recovery often requires dietary modifications.

What is a Hiatal Hernia?

A hernia is a hole, tear, or other type of damage in a muscular structure that results in the bulging out of underlying tissue. Hiatal hernias occur in the esophagus when a portion of the stomach pushes up through the diaphragm, the muscle wall in the abdominal cavity. Some people develop hiatal hernias but never experience symptoms. Others can develop numerous issues, including:

  • Heartburn
  • Acid reflux
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Chest pain
  • Trouble breathing
  • Feelings of fullness while eating

People who are obese or over the age of 50 are most at risk for developing this type of hernia. However, it can also result from an injury, heavy lifting, underlying health conditions, or muscular changes to the diaphragm. Some people may be genetically predisposed to the condition because they have a larger-than-normal opening in the diaphragm, known as the hiatus, where the esophagus passes through.

Who Needs Hiatal Hernia Surgery?

Surgery is a last resort for patients with this condition. It is often well-managed with lifestyle changes to minimize discomfort and acid production in the stomach. However, if symptoms are severe and do not improve with medication and healthy habits, surgery is the next step. Those with a narrowing esophagus may also need surgical intervention.

What Happens During the Procedure?

Surgeons can repair hiatal hernias in one of two ways: traditional open surgery and robotic-assisted laparoscopic surgery. Both are effective options, with laparoscopic alternatives posing fewer risks and faster recovery times for patients. However, the severity of the case determines which route your surgeon takes.

In most patients, the surgeon simply pushes the stomach tissues back below the diaphragm and then takes steps to prevent bulging from reoccurring. Others may require more extensive repairs, including the reconstruction and repair of a damaged esophagus.

What Causes Weight Loss After Hiatal Hernia Surgery?

Immediately after the procedure, patients may not eat or drink until a specialist verifies their ability to swallow safely. Then patients start on a liquid diet to minimize pressure and discomfort at the surgical site. It can take days to progress to soft foods and more to return to a normal diet. This way of eating is out of the norm for most patients, so it is common to gradually lose a few pounds in the meantime.

In addition, the procedure may reduce the size of the stomach. This means you may feel satisfied with less food than before, which can also lead to gradual weight loss with time.

The Connection Between Hiatal Hernias and Weight Loss

Doctors often recommend a plan to safely shed extra pounds to overweight hiatal hernia patients. This is true both before and after surgery.


Because surgery is a last resort for any condition, it’s important to try other less invasive interventions first. For those who are obese, weight loss can significantly improve and even resolve hiatal hernias altogether. Without the extra pressure from fatty tissue surrounding the stomach, the digestive system can rest naturally in place and function more efficiently. The result is often a reduction in painful symptoms.

Even if weight loss alone is not enough to manage hiatal hernia symptoms, your doctor may still recommend it if you are overweight. Not only can it improve your overall health, but it can help reduce your risks of developing another hiatal hernia in the future. However, rapid weight loss is rarely safe or recommended. Instead, make gradual healthy changes that result in slow and steady weight loss, according to your doctor’s recommendations. This approach yields more lasting results without causing unnecessary harm.


The body’s response to surgery, an expected loss of appetite, and dietary restrictions can all lead to weight loss after hiatal hernia surgery. Dropping a few pounds over the course of a few weeks is normal for most patients. Most people can expect to gain this back within the next few months as more normal eating habits resume. If your stomach lost any of its capacity during the procedure, you may lose weight and keep it off.

Some patients have hiatal hernia repairs and bariatric surgery simultaneously. This combination of procedures can lead to continued weight loss over time. While all of these situations are normal, rapid weight loss after surgery is not. If you find yourself losing more than two pounds per week, talk with your doctor.

Tips for Safe and Healthy Surgery Recovery

In addition to weight loss after hiatal hernia surgery, you can also expect a few other side effects, including:

  • Difficulty swallowing, which should improve with healing
  • Discomfort at the surgical site
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Nausea

To minimize or prevent these issues, follow your doctor’s instructions for home care. Avoid foods and beverages that can irritate the stomach and contribute to gas or heartburn, such as alcohol, acidic foods and beverages, fried foods, and cruciferous vegetables. Also, do not drink with a straw, as this forces more air into the digestive tract.

In addition, keep all incision sites properly cleaned and bandaged. Avoid intense activity or heavy lifting, but stay mobile by walking as soon as you are able; this helps minimize the risks of post-surgical blood clots. Your doctor may also recommend breathing or coughing exercises to restrengthen your diaphragm.

Manage Your Weight Loss After Hiatal Hernia Surgery With Arizona Premier Surgery

At Arizona Premier Surgery, we can help you create a recovery plan that prioritizes your overall health and wellness. While some weight loss after hiatal hernia surgery is normal, shedding pounds rapidly is not. Contact us today to learn more about what to expect after this and other procedures.