Alcohol After Surgery

Is Drinking Alcohol After Bariatric Surgery Safe?

May I drink alcohol after surgery?

Patients who are considering bariatric surgery will frequently ask if it is possible to include alcohol into a healthy diet and lifestyle after surgery.  Yes, it is possible to drink alcohol again, however, it should be done gradually and with modification. It is important to understand that after bariatric surgery, your metabolism, or the way that your body processes the food and drinks that you consume, changes. You must re-introduce alcohol carefully and with thought to avoid compromising your commitment to a new, and healthier lifestyle after bariatric surgery.

Some things to consider:

  • Altered metabolism – blood alcohol levels peak faster and higher, and can take longer to return to normal, particularly after bypass surgery.
  • Low blood sugar – rapid weight loss together with low carbohydrate intake can lead to  reduced sugar or glycogen levels in the body.  Drinking alcohol can further deplete our glycogen levels, which can in turn lead to your blood sugar levels dropping further. Low blood sugar, or hypoglycaemia, can lead to loss of consciousness and even death.  Bariatric patients who drink alcohol after surgery must be aware of hypoglycaemic symptoms such as loss of coordination and balance, slurred speech, poor vision and confusion – often mistaken for simply being intoxicated!
  • Excess calories – drinking alcohol, which is high in calories and low in nutrients, can slow down weight loss, and even contribute to weight regain.
  • Addiction transfer – some patients, particularly those who have a history of addiction, are at a higher risk for developing new addictions after the dramatic reduction of food consumption that occurs after bariatric surgery.  Patients can trade their food addiction for other addictions such as drugs, gambling, shopping – or alcohol. Be aware!

Alcohol Drinking Guidelines

  • Do avoid alcohol for at least the first 6 months after surgery
  • Do avoid carbonated, or fizzy, and sugary drinks or mixers – it may hurt to drink and often contain too many calories
  • Do remember that even small amounts of alcoholic drinks after surgery can cause intoxication and low blood sugar
  • Do remember to NEVER drink and drive, even after having only minimal alcohol
  • Please DO SEEK HELP from your doctor if you find yourself drinking regularly to cope with stress and emotions

Disclaimer

The information herein is not intended as medical advice. It should be considered as a reference only, or a starting point for further discussions with Dr Willingham and his team about weight loss surgery. Please be aware that results may vary from person to person