Of course you can do anything you want after weight loss surgery, but you must consider if it’s smart and healthy for you. Let’s find out. Can you drink alcohol after weight loss surgery?
It’s a Common Question
We get that question quite often from those contemplating weight loss surgery. We understand that social drinking is part of our culture, but beyond that drinking contributes to obesity and can also become an addiction. We usually answer this question carefully and without reservation.
We tell patients that we recommend abstaining from alcohol for at least 6 months before their bariatric surgery, and resuming alcohol consumption should be gradual.
DOCTOR/PRACTICE reminds patients that alcohol has no nutrients, just calories and sugar. There are many many reasons to take it very slowly after weight loss surgery.
Changes to Metabolism
After weight loss surgery, especially gastric bypass, your stomach is smaller and you can’t metabolize alcohol like before. Alcohol levels rise faster and with less food entering the stomach and small intestine, it will enter the bloodstream faster. Blood alcohol levels remain high for longer, peak faster, and it takes longer to return to normal.
It doesn’t take much alcohol to make you intoxicated.
Although weight loss surgery will improve diabetes, high blood pressure, and pain, changes in how alcohol is metabolized can develop into an alcohol disorder. In fact, gastric bypass surgery is contributing to higher rates of alcohol-related hospitalizations.
High levels of alcohol in blood sugar levels can lead to other problems, including:
- Alcoholic gastritis
- Alcohol hepatitis
- Alcohol-induced pancreatitis
- Alcohol cardiomyopathy
Less Fat = Less Tolerance
Two things affect tolerance to alcohol after weight loss surgery.
The first is that body fat impacts alcohol tolerance. With more fat, you have a higher tolerance for alcohol. With less fat, your tolerance goes down.
Second, our stomach contains an enzyme known as alcohol dehydrogenase which helps to break down alcohol. With a smaller stomach there is less of the enzyme, and more alcohol makes it into the bloodstream.
Consequences of Drinking Alcohol After Weight Loss Surgery
Drinking alcohol can lead to several consequences:
- With excess calories and no nutrients, alcohol can slow weight loss. and you may gain weight.
- You may develop a new addiction—trading food for alcohol or drugs.
- You risk low blood sugar or hypoglycemia which can be dangerous. This can occur due to rapid weight loss and low intake of carbs.
Risks of Drinking After Weight Loss Surgery
You can develop alcohol poisoning with the reduced tolerance. Overconsumption is easier when tolerance is low.
Additionally, you can actually develop alcoholism because you become addicted due to low tolerance. This can affect brain chemistry causing depression, and a vicious cycle begins.
Guidelines From DOCTOR/PRACTICE
Don’t drink alcohol for 6 months. After that period avoid serving it with carbonated drinks or sugary drinks.
Remember that even low amounts can cause intoxication and low blood sugar.
Never drink and drive.
Only drink with meals or while eating.
Note the calorie content.
Get help if you are drinking too much.
Contact Dignity Health Medical Group if you are considering weight loss surgery in the Phoenix area and want to know more about alcohol restrictions after surgery. Call our Gilbert location at (480) 728-6590, our Chandler location at (602) 582-5233, or request an appointment through our secure online form.