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Gastric Bypass and Alcohol – Mix with care!

Alcohol After Bariatric Surgery


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Avoiding Alcohol Post Gastric Bypass

One in 5 patients who undergo weight-loss surgical procedures are likely to develop severe alcohol problems’ according to a study[1]“Alcohol Disorder Tests Fail in Weight Loss Surgery Patients” University of Pittsburg Medical Center (UPMC), 10/15/2018
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. The symptoms don’t appear very soon after the surgery. Patients must be told about alcohol intake limits and risks pre and post-surgery.

 Alcohol Absorption Rates Depend on Gastric Emptying Rates

Usually, alcohol is a readily diffusible compound and is slowly absorbed from the stomach. This slower absorption is because of delay in gastric emptying.[2]“Observations on the relation between alcohol absorption and the rate of gastric emptying.” S Holt, NCBI, 1981 Feb 1; 124(3): 267-77, 297.
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The patients with a “post-op” stomach have a rapid gastric emptying leading to faster absorption of alcohol in the small intestine. This

  • Depletes glycogen, dropping your blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia).
  • Hypoglycemia leads to brain and nerve damages and unconsciousness.

Many studies have demonstrated
that when alcohol is ingested together with/after food it is absorbed more slowly than when it is consumed on an empty stomach.[3]“Interpretation of Breathalyser Results for Medico-Legal Purposes” E. C. Cameron and P. A. Donkin, ICAD International
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Therefore, patients are riskful in developing  Alcohol Use Disorder, or severe drinking problem after the surgery. [4]“Alcohol Use Disorder” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
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Excessive and Unnecessary Calories

Alcohol has excessive calories (7 calories per gram as compared to carbohydrates and proteins that have four calories per gram). You wouldn’t want to put on all that weight back again!

Stronger Impact and Sensitivity

The gastric bypass surgery changes the manner your body processes alcohol. The surgery causes rapid delivery of alcohol into the bloodstream, resulting in high blood alcohol levels.

The general concern is that the effects of alcohol can be stronger after having bariatric surgery.[5]Valeria Duarte Gregoria, Roselma Lucchese et al. “The Alcohol Consumption is Amended After Bariatric Surgery? An Integrative Review” Brazilian Archives of Digestive Surgery 2016; 29(Suppl 1): 111–115.
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Many patients report being more sensitive to alcohol than what they were before undergoing surgery and that those effects lasted longer.

The Body takes Longer to Excrete the Alcohol

Studies have also shown that after bariatric surgery, individuals may absorb alcohol faster, likely because liquids empty out of the pouch/stomach more quickly and the body may take longer to excrete alcohol. The digestion is slower because the enzyme in the stomach which generally starts to digest alcohol is absent or significantly reduced in quantity.

“Generally, we advice bariatric patients to abstain from consuming alcohol. But, if one wants to have some, please avoid carbonated alcoholic beverages/sparkling wines after bariatric surgery. Consume minimal quality. Slowly take small sips to avoid discomfort.” – Katelyn JM (US-RD Nutritionist)

Alcohol After Bariatric Surgery

Penn Medicine[6]Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Blog, Penn Medicine. “Can You Drink Alcohol After Weight Loss Surgery?”
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has given a few points to remember while drinking alcohol post-bariatric surgery-

  • Say no to alcohol for the initial six months following bariatric surgery.
  • Ask for your physician’s “okay” before you start drinking again.
  • Avoid carbonated beverages after bariatric surgery, including sugary drink mixers.
  • Always remember that alcohol has a more considerable effect after weight loss surgery.
  • Don’t drink and drive.
  • Only drink with meals to help in the slow absorption of alcohol.

This Post Addresses

  • Effects of alcohol after gastric bypass surgery
  • Alcohol abuse after gastric bypass surgery
  • Can you drink alcohol after gastric bypass surgery
  • Drinking alcohol after gastric sleeve surgery
  • Bariatric surgery and alcohol

References

  1. Alcohol Disorder Tests Fail in Weight Loss Surgery Patients” University of Pittsburg Medical Center (UPMC), 10/15/2018
  2. Observations on the relation between alcohol absorption and the rate of gastric emptying.” S Holt, NCBI, 1981 Feb 1; 124(3): 267-77, 297.
  3. Interpretation of Breathalyser Results for Medico-Legal Purposes” E. C. Cameron and P. A. Donkin, ICAD International
  4. Alcohol Use Disorder” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
  5. Valeria Duarte Gregoria, Roselma Lucchese et al. “The Alcohol Consumption is Amended After Bariatric Surgery? An Integrative ReviewBrazilian Archives of Digestive Surgery 2016; 29(Suppl 1): 111–115.
  6. Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Blog, Penn Medicine. “Can You Drink Alcohol After Weight Loss Surgery?”


Updated on September 27, 2019

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