Guide to Drinking Alcohol After RNY Gastric Bypass SurgeryDrinking alcohol after gastric bypass surgery is a highly discussed topic among RNY patients. Following gastric bypass surgery, patients have a new stomach called a “stoma”, which restricts the amount of food bypass patients can eat during each meal. This restriction, along with malabsorption from rerouting the intestines causes significant weight loss for patients.

Another aspect that patients don’t take into account is the change of social habits after surgery. Unfortunately, this includes a higher risk of drinking alcohol after gastric bypass surgery, even to the point where alcohol addiction becomes a problem. Above all, the new stomach, or stoma, is so small that the smallest amount of alcohol can make a huge impact on a patients ability to function. It is vital that gastric bypass patients become aware of the risk of drinking alcohol as well as the risk of abuse based on studies such as this one.

Social habits overall have been known to cause a difference when gastric bypass patients begin losing weight. They had dealt with many years of low self-esteem and staying indoors, avoiding parties and social gatherings, and not enjoying themselves in a public setting. But after surgery when the weight starts coming up, they regain their confidence, and sometimes the new social environment includes excessive drinking of alcohol, particularly when the amount of food they can eat is limited.

Gastric Bypass and Drinking Alcohol

People that get gastric bypass surgery should already know they are not to drink alcohol for the first year after getting the procedure. But many use alcohol as an outlet when food is no longer a way to help with their emotional or psychological problems. In a study published in the Archives of Surgery and written by Dr. Alexis Conason from St Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York City, there is about a 50 percent increase in substance abuse in the first year after surgery. There are also trends showing patients have turned to other types of substances, including cigarettes and narcotics.

During the holidays, this dangerous trend continues, as does the risk for increased drinking. The study shows that as gastric bypass patients attend holiday parties and functions, they are not able to participate in the same eating that other guests are, so they turn to alcoholic beverages. There seems to be an even higher risk for alcohol consumption among the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass patients than other types of weight loss surgeries, although all kinds of weight loss surgeries carry some risk.

Patients who undergo gastric bypass surgery are urged to follow the same limitations and nutritional guidelines with holiday drinking, as much as eating. They are meant to start a new healthy lifestyle that keeps them eating and drinking in moderation, regardless of where they are, whether it is Sunday brunch or a work Christmas party. Researchers and physicians urge patients to practice caution when they choose to drink alcohol during the holidays, as well as the rest of the year, due to the higher increase in substance abuse.

We strongly recommend that patients do not drink alcohol after gastric bypass surgery.