Think Before you Drink! Alcohol after Bariatric Surgery

Most of us know that if you drink alcohol on an empty stomach, you tend to become inebriated more quickly than you would if you had a full stomach. After gastric bypass or gastric sleeve surgery, the same thing happens.

Alcohol sensitivity, (particularly if alcohol is consumed during the rapid weight-loss period), is increased after bariatric surgery so that the effects of alcohol are felt with fewer drinks than before surgery. When alcohol enters the stomach of someone with normal gut anatomy, some of it is metabolized in the stomach. Conditions that reduce gastric metabolism of alcohol increase blood alcohol levels and its effects. Studies find with certain bariatric procedures (such as the gastric bypass or sleeve gastrectomy) that drinking an alcoholic beverage increases blood alcohol to levels that are considerably higher than before surgery or in comparison to the alcohol levels of individuals who have not had a bariatric procedure.

Bariatric patients are advised to take certain precautions regarding alcohol:

  • Avoid alcoholic beverages during the rapid weight-loss period.
  • Be aware that even small amounts of alcohol can cause intoxication.
  • Avoid driving or operating heavy equipment after drinking any alcohol.
  • Seek help if drinking becomes a problem.


Plump and young woman tests a glass of red wineIf you feel the consumption of alcohol may be an issue for you after surgery, please contact your primary care physician or bariatric surgeon and discuss this further. They will be able to help you identify resources available to address any alcohol-related issues.

The effects of alcohol are stronger and faster after both gastric bypass and gastric sleeve surgery. Aside from the physical dangers of becoming more inebriated quicker than we expect to be, the health dangers may be more pronounced as well. Alcohol is a carbohydrate that has no nutritional benefit and could lead to weight gain. It is toxic to the body and especially hard on the liver. If you must drink, moderation is key.

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If you live in the Las Vegas area and are interested in finding out more about bariatric surgery, schedule an appointment with Dr. Heidi Ryan. She can answer any questions you have about bariatric surgery and your options.

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