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Alcohol after gastric sleeve: What you need to know about drinking alcohol after gastric bariatric surgery

Before and After BMI

March 19, 2019

Alcohol after gastric sleeve: What you need to know about drinking alcohol after gastric bariatric surgery

What happens if you drink alcohol after gastric sleeve?

The decision to get gastric sleeve surgery is a significant one that can be full of anxiety and fear as well as hope and anticipation. For many people, a gastric sleeve is a lifeline. It’s not an easy road to travel, but it can be an extremely rewarding one. Once the surgery is over, emotions shift. The surgeon’s job is done, and now the patient must do the hard work.

As you step into your post-op journey, you’re likely wondering what you can and should be doing to increase your chances of success. Many of these thoughts are related to foods and beverages or, more specifically, what is and is not off-limits now. Alcohol tends to get brought up often in discussions of post-op diets, and it’s important for bariatric patients to understand how drinking after gastric sleeve can affect you.

When Can I Drink Alcohol After Gastric Sleeve?

Avoid drinking alcohol at all during the first year after your gastric sleeve surgery. This is when losing weight occurs the most rapidly and when you will be the most sensitive to the effects of alcohol. If you choose to drink you should know that alcohol is the preferred fuel source in the liver and if consumed regularly or in significant quantity it can slow or stunt your weight loss.

Drinking Alcohol after Gastric Sleeve: What to expect

It’s important for patients to understand what they can and can’t consume after having a gastric bypass. After initial healing is complete and your surgeon releases you, you should have a good idea of what your diet should consist of. This is because the way your body processes foods and beverages is different after surgery, and this includes how alcohol is processed. Here’s what you can expect when drinking after bariatric surgery.

Alcohol and Nausea

Even after the initial healing period, nausea and vomiting should still be a consideration when drinking alcohol. Don’t be alarmed if alcohol consumption causes you to become nauseated. If so, stop drinking and use anti-nausea remedies to prevent vomiting. This can include ingesting ginger, lying down, getting fresh air, or taking prescribed medications. If alcoholic beverages routinely cause you to become nauseous, you may want to avoid alcohol entirely.

Alcohol and Vomiting

You’ll most likely vomit at some point following your gastric sleeve surgery. Sometimes, this is a result of the expected nausea, and in rare cases, vomiting can be caused by a complication with the surgery. Although you are unlikely to damage your gastric sleeve by vomiting, it can cause your stomach to become inflamed and swollen, which can exacerbate unpleasant side effects. Since drinking alcohol after gastric sleeve surgery can get you heavily intoxicated quickly, it’s not difficult to reach the point of vomiting with drinking. Take care of your gastric sleeve by avoiding vomiting whenever possible, especially from alcohol.

Precautions to take when drinking alcohol after gastric sleeve surgery

There are several precautions you should take when drinking alcohol after gastric sleeve:

  • Always have someone you trust with you if you choose to drink. This person should know that you’ve had gastric sleeve surgery and understand how that affects how you consume alcohol. It’s also helpful if this person pledges to stay sober, to provide you with a ride home if needed.
  • Be careful not to overdo it. Plan ahead of time how many drinks you will have, and make sure you’re giving yourself enough time in between drinks.
  • Make sure you eat a meal before you drink. Never drink on an empty stomach.

Are gastric sleeve patients at a higher risk for alcohol abuse disorders?

A percentage of people develop an alcohol use disorder after gastric sleeve surgery. Some resources suggest that in many cases, obesity is caused by an addiction to food, and after bariatric surgery, the addiction is still present but is transferred to another substance, such as alcohol. However, if that were true, most if not all cases of bariatric surgery would end in addiction or substance use disorders.

The reality is that the number of gastric sleeve patients who report alcohol use disorders is small compared to the total number of bariatric surgery patients. Most of them report that they struggled with an alcohol use problem prior to surgery as well, reinforcing the theory that gastric sleeve and alcohol use disorders are unrelated.

Should you drink alcohol after gastric sleeve?

Drinking alcohol after gastric sleeve is a personal choice and can be safe when done in moderation and with caution. After you’ve gone through the initial healing period, there’s nothing that contraindicates moderate and responsible alcohol use after gastric sleeve surgery. Before you fill your glass of wine though, it’s always a good idea to consult with your surgeon to discuss alcohol use in your specific case.

You may also be interested in: Do I Qualify for Weight Loss Surgery Quiz