Gastric sleeve surgery is likely to improve your life drastically – unless it already has. The purpose of this weight loss procedure is to help reduce your weight by shrinking the stomach size to only one-sixth of its original size. So it is completely normal to wonder if you are ever able to drink alcohol again after undergoing gastric sleeve surgery.
Most patients fear the lifestyle change and are worried if they will ever be able to enjoy life again, enjoy food, party with friends, and of course drink alcohol. In comparing the pros and cons of gastric sleeve, your health and longevity are worth the few post-op diet limitations related to food and beverage adjustments.
But fear not! You can stop worrying because there aren’t many restrictions after vsg surgery, but there still are many suggestions and limitations that can help with your long-term results.
A lot of gastric sleeve patients ask about drinking alcohol after the operation. The answer is not simple, so we would like to break it down for you. The answer is YES, you can drink alcohol after gastric sleeve surgery. But there are a few important factors to think about.
When can I drink alcohol?
Alcohol devoids any nutritional benefits, inhibits the absorption and usage of vital nutrients, and contains high numbers of calories that may decrease your maximal weight loss success. Avoid drinking alcohol during the six months after the sleeve surgery as it causes intoxication and low blood sugar.
Problems of Drinking Alcohol After Bariatric Surgery
Gastric sleeve surgery, or any bariatric procedure, increases your body’s sensitivity to alcohol. It is known that especially after gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, or duodenal switch surgery – less than one drink of alcohol makes you feel intoxicated whereas before surgery two or three drinks might have had the same effect.
Problem #1: It does not take much time to get drunk (there are much more rapid onset and rapid absorption of alcohol).
Problem #2: You get more drunk (sharper incline in alcohol level).
Problem #3: Stay drunk longer (alcohol level stays higher for a longer period of time).
For patients after gastric sleeve surgery, there should be a zero-tolerance for drinking and driving.
Alcoholism and additicion: Only a very small percentage of patients develop alcohol use problems after bariatric surgery (3-5% for bypass and less for gastric sleeve). In general, pre-operative alcohol abuse usually carries over to post-operative.
Is Drinking Alcohol After Gastric Sleeve Surgery Recommended?
One of the preparations for gastric sleeve surgery is the pre-operative diet that includes stopping alcohol consumption. This is done for its benefit in reducing marginal weight before surgery and the positive effect with respect to anesthesia and postoperative anesthetic recovery.
In fact, those that would be funded by insurance companies must demonstrate compliance with this diet plan for at least six months before they can obtain approval.
It is assumed that this dietary adjustment should be maintained after gastric sleeve surgery to achieve optimal weight loss. Therefore, alcohol consumption is not recommended after gastric sleeve surgery.
How to Drink Alcohol After Gastric Sleeve Surgery
If your doctor gives you permission to drink alcohol after gastric sleeve surgery, here are some simple guidelines you can follow. Remember to speak with your primary care physician before drinking any alcohol.
- During the first six months after surgery, avoid alcohol
- Avoid mixers of sweet drinks and soft drinks
- Remember that even small amounts can cause hypoglycemia. Small amounts can even cause alcohol poisoning.
- Drink along with meals to help decrease alcohol absorption
- Check the caloric content of alcohol
Possible Risks and Side Effects of Drinking Alcohol
1. Alcohol is lacking key nutrients offering little to no nutritional value (empty calories)
The post-op gastric sleeve diet is characterized by a decrease in appetite due to a reduction of the hormone that increases appetite, ghrelin. This implies that after gastric sleeve surgery, you should take a small but nutritious diet to avoid nutritional deficiencies.
Long-term side effect = Weight gain
Although alcohol is a liquid carbohydrate that provides more energy (1g-7.1kcal) than other carbohydrates (1g-4kcal), it does not contain other nutrients. The energy derived from alcohol is also addictive and will eventually lead to a positive energy balance with the consequent weight gain.
In addition to this, alcohol interferes with the absorption of water-soluble vitamins such as vitamins B12, B1, B6, and folic acid. Due to the low consumption of these vitamins as a result of reduced appetite after gastric sleeve surgery, a deficiency state can develop.
2. Speeds up gastric emptying (stomach constantly feels empty)
The main mechanism by which the gastric sleeve induces weight loss is the reduction of food intake by early satiety. Drinking alcohol after the sleeve gastrectomy will empty more quickly in the small intestine, being a liquid diet.
Side effect = you get hungry and completely wasted (blackout drunk)
This can eliminate any feeling of fullness that leads to an increased intake of alcohol/calories and an insufficient weight loss or even an increase in weight. A faster gastric emptying also means that you can get drunk early and have abnormal behavior.
3. Stretching the Stomach
Stretching and permanent dilation and enlargement of the stomach after gastric sleeve surgery is one of the causes of inadequate weight loss or weight recovery after an initial loss.
Binge drinking can accelerate this stretching process and, therefore, counterproductive to the goal of gastric sleeve surgery. If your stomach has been stretched and widened, another surgery may be necessary to correct it.
4. Liver Disease
The most common cause of chronic liver disease in the Western world is alcoholic liver disease. A rare cause is non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Signs of fatty infiltration in the liver are observed in most individuals with morbid obesity, which tends to progress to NAFLD with its complication of liver cirrhosis and the need for a liver transplant.
It is expected that this fatty infiltration of the liver will decrease with weight loss after gastric sleeve surgery. However, the consumption of alcohol after gastric sleeve surgery will decrease weight loss, worsening the infiltration of fat in the liver with the progression of alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Alcohol is known to be toxic to liver cells. As appetite and caloric intake decrease after gastric sleeve surgery, the liver must work more and serve as an energy reservoir, as well as a place to convert other biomolecules into energy. These functions would be compromised with alcohol consumption and could even be a cause of liver failure.
The consumption of alcohol after gastric sleeve surgery is not contraindicated. It has been discovered that a small amount is beneficial for cardiovascular health. However, this benefit can be obtained from exercise and a healthy diet. Therefore, you should weigh the small advantage of alcohol with its many detrimental effects on weight loss, nutritional deficiencies, and liver function.
Our recommendation is that you should avoid alcohol consumption after gastric sleeve surgery.
Gastric Sleeve Digestive Changes
Gastric sleeve surgery is one of the surgical options available for obese people who wish to reduce their weight or who have not achieved satisfactory weight loss by following other non-surgical methods. It is one of the safest and most effective bariatric surgeries.
Safe because it is done by laparoscopy and has less postoperative complications. Effective because it eliminates 80-85% of the stomach and reduces the production of ghrelin (an appetite-stimulating hormone).
The end result is a reduction in food intake, suppression of appetite and weight loss (an average of 59% of excess weight), and the reversal of comorbid conditions.
Remember the Link Between Alcohol and Obesity
The relationship between alcohol and obesity has been well established. Several studies have shown contradictory results about the effect of alcohol consumption on weight gain. While some have found that alcohol consumption is a risk factor for weight gain, others have not shown any correlation between the two. Some even show a beneficial effect on overall cardiovascular health.
However, a fact common to almost all studies is the relationship between the amount of alcohol and weight gain. It has been shown that the frequency of consumption has no correlation with weight gain, but volume is said to be a risk factor for obesity. It has been shown that the consumption of more than 21 glasses of alcohol per week is a risk factor for obesity.