Can You Drink Alcohol After Bariatric Surgery?

Alcohol After Bariatric Surgery

Understand the guidelines and considerations for consuming alcohol after bariatric surgery. Learn how to make informed choices for your health.

Post-bariatric surgery, patients face many major lifestyle changes. They can no longer eat the way they did before surgery, nor can they drink liquid with their meals. They must exercise and take supplements for the rest of their life to maintain their health. Patients may have unexpected side effects due to their weight loss and this blog post is going to talk about one such side effect that you may experience if you have bariatric surgery. You may not ever be able to drink or tolerate alcohol again.

Bariatric Surgery and Alcohol Consumption

Many people enjoy having a beer at a ball game or a glass of wine out with their friends. This in itself is not an issue and you have probably enjoyed these in the past. Because you know yourself the best, you probably know how different types of alcohol; beer, wine, mixed drinks, etc. normally affect you. You may be surprised to learn that after certain types of bariatric surgery, it’s a whole new experience. It is like going back in time to a place where you have never had a drink in your life. To understand why this happens, let’s talk about how the body processes alcohol before surgery.

What Factors Affect Alcohol Absorption Before Weight Loss Surgery?

Consuming an alcoholic beverage, your body absorbs very little directly into the stomach, yet swiftness of the substance travels through your digestive system to the small bowel area and into the bloodstream varies due to a multitude of factors. Therefore, if drinking with a full stomach, the alcohol will process more slowly, although if imbibed on an empty stomach, rapid absorption is more likely.

Researching the metabolism of alcohol, the study found that the percentage of alcohol concentration determines how quickly the body absorbs it. For instance, drinking alcohol with a 2030% concentration rate on an empty stomach processes faster than a beer. Carbonated drinks like champagne quickly enter the system; however, carbohydrates can slow down absorption. Moreover, alcohol’s effects vary with different genders, weights, and, for women, menstrual cycles. Ultimately, many factors influence how fast alcohol is metabolized.

How the Body Processes Alcohol Before Surgery

The natural enzyme present partially breaks down alcohol in the stomach, releasing it slowly after some time to the small bowel for absorption. Specifically, the same organ that absorbs the nutrients necessary for bodily functions absorbs the diluted, partially processed alcohol and, via the lining of its countless capillaries, directs it to the bloodstream. However, bariatric surgery, including gastric bypass, radically alters the body‘s usual alcoholprocessing approach.

Potential Risks of Consuming Alcohol

After bariatric surgery, the patient’s body does not metabolize alcohol the way it did before surgery. Most weight loss surgery consists of restrictive and malabsorptive techniques. Restrictively, gastric bypass surgery removes between 70 and 80% of the stomach, thus limiting its capacity.

The procedure alters both the stomach and digestive system, concurrently shortening the distance from the stomach to the end of the small intestine. Consequently, these changes ultimately decrease the stomach’s size and influence digestion and absorption.

Alcohol after Gastric Bypass Surgery

A gastric bypass significantly reduces the size of the stomach, limiting its ability to digest or mix alcohol with food, thus directly releasing it into the small bowel. Furthermore, the shortened digestive system accelerates the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream, causing bariatric patients to become inebriated with just a few sips. Nevertheless, the after-effects linger for a longer period. Consequently, patients may need to adjust their drinking habits accordingly.

Alcohol after Gastric Sleeve Surgery

Because their stomach has been surgically altered, patients who have undergone gastric sleeve surgery may be affected by alcohol despite not having any alterations to their intestines. Alcohol’s original potency persists in their small bowel because their stomach enzymes are limited, reducing their ability to break down the alcohol. Consequently, these patients must take extra precautions when consuming alcohol.

How Long After Bariatric Surgery Can You Drink Alcohol?

After having bariatric surgery, patients are on a very strict diet. Many people also have weight-related health issues. Drinking alcohol does not provide any nutritional value and more than likely will sabotage your weight loss regime. During the first 12 months postsurgery, rapid weight loss and various physical changes occur, so we strongly advise against using alcohol until after this period. Furthermore, it may affect blood sugar levels or interact with drugs already taken by the patient.

Weight Loss Surgery and Alcoholism

At the University Of Pittsburgh, researchers studied patients who underwent gastric bypass surgery and discovered the potential to develop alcohol use disorder in a few years after surgery, even when there is no prior evidence of alcohol abuse. Consequently, they annotated that this could be a consequence of the surgery itself.
We recommend further research to expand the body of knowledge on this matter.

Transitioning from food addiction to alcohol addiction after bariatric surgery has previously been attributed to the notion of addiction transfer. However, this hypothesis failed to explain why alcohol addiction can occur 23 years post-surgery.

The reason behind increased postoperative risks of alcohol disorder is the changes in alcohol absorption and metabolism. Gastric bypass patients become more sensitive to alcohol. Alcohol passes through the system more quickly allowing them to drink more.

Like many other big changes experienced by weight loss surgery patients, drinking alcohol will affect you much differently than before.

To Drink or Not to Drink

Remember, each patient is uniquesome more susceptible to the effects of alcohol than othersso no matter your decision, it‘s important to understand that bariatric surgery significantly alters the way your body processes alcoholsomething you cannot control. Consequently, it‘s wise to either steer clear of it entirely or drink with caution.

If you do decide to drink alcohol after having weight loss surgery, take every precaution to mitigate risks. Monitor how your system is handling it by waiting between sips and avoid consuming too much too fast; stay conscious of how this is affecting you. Most of all, do not drive, ever. You may think you are okay, but a rapid decline can follow and could be tragic.

Take the first step towards a healthier you and contact us today at IBI Healthcare Institute. At IBI, we take a partnered approach to weight loss and offer ongoing support throughout your journey. During your consultation, an expert will answer your questions about bariatric surgery and different weight loss options. Additionally, all your concerns will be attended to. Therefore, schedule a consultation with us now and experience firsthand the tremendous benefits of bariatric surgery!

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