Understanding the Dangers of Mixing Alcohol and Bariatric Surgery

Hand holding a glass at a bar.Life after bariatric surgery requires many adjustments. Your relationship to alcohol is an important one. Due to the changes to the digestive system, patients feel the effects of alcohol much more strongly, and consequently, should eliminate it from their diet completely. The team at Tijuana Bariatrics can help patients understand the interaction between alcohol and bariatric surgery and help them prepare for this change at the Tijuana, Mexico, office. Contact Tijuana Bariatrics today to learn more about what to expect after bariatric surgery.

The Increased Effects of Alcohol after Surgery

By physically shrinking the stomach, bariatric surgery often leaves patients considerably more sensitive to alcohol. Since it does not need to be digested, alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream much faster than most foods or liquids. In fact, a small portion of it is absorbed directly through the stomach, rather than in the intestine.

When a pre-bariatric patient consumes alcohol, the stomach produces an enzyme which helps to break down the fluid before it enters the bloodstream, diminishing the effects. However, since a majority of the stomach is removed in many bariatric surgeries, post-bariatric patients produce much less of this enzyme. Consequently, their blood alcohol levels are much higher than in non-bariatric patients who have consumed the same amount of alcohol

Further enhancing the problem is that food slows gastric emptying, and therefore reduces alcohol absorption. But it has been found that many gastric bypass patients follow the restriction of no eating while drinking, which causes alcohol to be absorbed even faster. This effect of alcohol is particularly exacerbated during the rapid weight loss period, immediately after their surgery. Additionally, certain surgeries, such as gastric bypass, can further intensify the sensitivity. 

What Does This Mean For Me?

Patients should avoid alcohol after bariatric surgery, particularly during the period of rapid weight loss. In addition to the issue of increased sensitivity, alcohol can have a severe negative impact on a bariatric patient’s health and weight loss. After surgery, your stomach has a limited capacity, and the amount you can eat and drink is much less. By filling that space with alcohol, which has no nutritional value, you undermine your potential weight loss.

For patients with a history of alcohol issues, increased alcohol sensitivity can lead to a host of other complications.

Consuming alcoholic beverages could leave you more vulnerable to other health problems. Water and protein are extremely important to post-bariatric patients. Too little of either can lead to potential problems. 

Dehydration is one of the most common reasons for readmission to the hospital after bariatric surgery. With a smaller stomach, patients must place drinking water at the top of their priority list. Alcohol interferes with this two-fold: not only does it take up space that could be used for water, it can also dehydrate you.

The human body needs protein for many functions and will take it from the most convenient source. If there is not enough protein coming into the body through food, the body will start taking it from its own stores, beginning with the muscles. When patients lose weight from muscle, compared to fat, it is much less healthy and typically leaves patients frailer.

For patients with a history of alcohol issues, increased alcohol sensitivity can lead to a host of other complications. The changes that coincide with bariatric surgery can be stressful to patients and can put considerable strain on a patient’s mental health. If a patient normally turned to alcohol to relieve stress, the effects are magnified considerably. If you have had problems with alcohol, it is highly recommended that you seek professional help or join a support group during the months after your surgery.

Contact the experienced Weight Loss Specialists
at Tijuana Bariatrics Today

The surgeons and weight loss management professionals working through Tijuana Bariatrics are dedicated to ensuring your healthy recovery and weight loss. Reach out today to learn more about the effects of alcohol on the results of your bariatric surgery.