Should I Drink Alcohol After Bariatric Surgery?
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- Many patients report feeling the effects of alcohol more quickly after a weight loss surgery like gastric bypass or gastric sleeve.
- In post-surgery patients, the stomach is much smaller than normal, causing alcohol to quickly pass into the small intestine.
- Bariatric surgery may compound the negative effects that alcohol can have on the body.
- Alcohol abuse is often more common following weight loss surgery—even for patients with no prior history of alcohol problems.
- It’s important to talk with your doctor about their recommendations regarding alcohol consumption following your bariatric surgery.
Weight loss surgery changes many things, one of which is the way your body processes alcohol. You may find that you’re much more sensitive to the effects of alcohol after bariatric surgery — even after drinking a very small amount. It’s important to understand how bariatric surgery affects the way your body processes and reacts to alcohol after weight loss surgery. Keep reading to learn more about alcohol consumption following surgery, and when and if you can start drinking again.
Alcohol Absorption after Bariatric Surgery
Many patients report feeling the effects of alcohol more quickly after a weight loss procedure like gastric bypass or gastric sleeve surgery. Why is this? It has to do with how the body processes alcohol.
The stomach begins the process of breaking down alcohol but little alcohol is absorbed from the stomach. Most absorption occurs in the small intestine. As alcohol empties from the stomach into the small intestine, it’s rapidly absorbed by the body. Food slows down this emptying, which is why people tend to feel the effects of alcohol more quickly when drinking on an empty stomach.
In post-surgery patients, the stomach is much smaller than normal, causing alcohol to quickly pass into the small intestine. This makes you feel the effects of alcohol much more quickly and after consuming much smaller amounts than prior to surgery. Metabolic changes following surgery can also make it take longer for the body to break down and remove alcohol from your system.
Alcohol and the Body
Alcohol can have negative impacts on the body, particularly after bariatric surgery. These include increased risk for the following:
- Reduced absorption of vitamins
- Problems with the heart
- Inflammation of the intestinal tract
- Interference with blood sugar levels
- Certain cancers
- Liver damage
- Neural tissue damage
Alcoholism after Surgery
Alcohol abuse is often more common following weight loss surgery. Even patients without any prior history of alcohol problems were at a higher risk of developing problems after surgery. If you choose to drink, watch for signs of alcoholism and remember that alcohol is likely to impact you much faster and stronger than prior to surgery.
Alcohol and Weight Gain
Another thing to remember is that alcohol is a carbohydrate and contains calories that provide no nutritional value. For people on a low-calorie diet following surgery, alcohol can make it harder to lose or maintain weight.
Guidelines for Alcohol Consumption after Bariatric Surgery
It’s important to be careful when consuming alcohol following weight loss surgery. Talk with your doctor about their recommendations following your surgery. These general guidelines can give you an idea what to expect:
- Avoid drinking alcohol during the initial period of rapid weight loss
- Keep in mind that even small amounts of alcohol can result in intoxication
- Avoid driving or operating heavy machinery after drinking, even if you only drink a small amount
- Eat something when drinking alcohol
- Take the bariatric supplements recommended by your doctor
Is Gastric Sleeve Surgery Right for You?
Although the negative impacts of alcohol can be more severe following weight loss surgery, surgery is still an important first step toward losing excess weight and achieving a healthier lifestyle for many people. If you’re considering bariatric surgery, here are some things to consider:
- Qualify – To qualify for bariatric surgery, you must have a BMI more than 40 or a BMI more than 35 with one or more obesity-related conditions such as high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure.
- Information – Do your research by reading about bariatric surgery and talking with your doctor.
- Support – A good support system is vital for success, so talk with your family and friends about the decision and make sure you have a good support system in place.
- Cost – The cost of gastric sleeve varies, but Dr. Borland specializes in providing the procedure at reasonable rates. Including an initial consultation, the procedure costs $11,300. We don’t accept insurance but are happy to work with you on financing options.
- Weight Loss – Beginning a diet and exercise program prior to surgery can improve your chances of losing more weight afterwards and lower your risk of complications.
Preparing for Surgery
Surgery preparation begins with a consultation with Dr. Borland. You’ll then complete blood work and paperwork with your primary care doctor. The day before surgery, you’ll switch to a clear liquid diet and stop eating and drinking anything at midnight.
Dr. Borland and his team are committed to supporting you throughout your weight loss journey. Check out our additional resources if you have further questions about the procedure, then call our office to schedule your initial consultation and begin your journey to a healthier weight.