Alcohol consumption following weight-loss surgery is one of the most popular concerns patients have when it comes to diet and lifestyle changes post-surgery. You may have heard that alcohol consumption following bariatric surgery is perfectly safe, whereas other physicians and weight-loss patients have warned that alcohol can render you highly intoxicated, and is considered too dangerous after consumption. So which is the correct answer?
The answer is that the safety of alcohol consumption largely depends on the type of weight-loss surgery you decide to undergo.
Restrictive vs. malabsorptive weight-loss surgery
There are two main classifications of weight-loss surgery: restrictive and malabsorptive. Restrictive weight-loss surgeries, such as gastric banding (LAP-BAND®, Realize® Band) and sleeve gastrectomy (also known as the gastric sleeve) limit — or restrict — a patient’s stomach size, which allows them to feel full sooner after eating smaller portion sizes. Malabsorptive weight-loss surgery, such as Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery, results in the rerouting of the intestines so that the bloodstream can absorb fewer calories.
Which surgery puts patients at higher risk for intoxication?
Those who undergo Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery are at highest risk for blood alcohol poisoning and intoxication, since alcohol passes directly into the intestines and is rapidly absorbed by the bloodstream. Those who undergo restrictive procedures are not as at high of such a risk, but should still practice extreme caution and limit their intake when it comes to drinking alcohol.
Drinking safely and responsibly
Weight-loss patients who undergo gastric bypass surgery should severely limit their alcohol intake to avoid possible blood alcohol poisoning. Gastric bypass patients are advised to sip alcohol slowly and refrain from any driving when consuming alcohol. Drinking on an empty stomach can also accelerate and intensify the intoxication process.
Alcohol and caloric intake
The intoxication factor aside, all weight-loss surgery patients should keep in mind that most alcoholic beverages contain an excessive amount of calories that can hinder your weight-loss progress. Mixed drinks such as daiquiris, margaritas, and mai tais often contain lots of sugar and average around 600 calories per drink. Even liquors and beers touted as being “zero-calorie” or “low-fat” contain additives that can contribute to weight gain, or slow down the weight-loss process.
Related health problems
Following weight-loss surgery, some patients experience problems when drinking carbonated beverages, and can suffer from stomach pain, heartburn, and acid reflux as a result. If you suffer from any of these symptoms when drinking alcohol, try to air out carbonated drinks such as champagne and beer before drinking them, or dilute them with water (if you can tolerate the taste!).
Alcohol and addiction
Many bariatric surgeons warn all weight-loss patients against drinking alcohol within the first several months following surgery. Not only can alcohol result in adverse health effects, but it can prolong your ability to lose weight, and lead to possible addiction as you search for new ways to alleviate stress outside of eating. In some cases, you may want to avoid alcohol indefinitely if you have a history of alcohol abuse, or are dedicated to becoming healthier and losing weight.
CarePoint Health Center for Bariatric Surgery now offers gastric banding, sleeve gastrectomy, and Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery. To learn more about which weight-loss procedure may be best for you, contact us at 201-795-8175 and register for our free seminar.