Gastric sleeve surgery can improve your quality of life. This weight loss procedure helps reduce your weight by shrinking your stomach size to about one-sixth of its original size. The reduction in your stomach size can affect how you can enjoy the same things you did before, like alcohol.
Some patients fear they can never enjoy life, food, and partying again. Ultimately the pros and cons of the gastric sleeve of health and longevity outweigh post-op diet limitations related to food and drinking alcohol.
Can I drink alcohol after gastric sleeve surgery?
In short, YES, you can drink after gastric sleeve surgery, but there are a few important factors to consider.
When can I drink alcohol?
Avoid drinking alcohol for the first six months after the surgery.
Is Drinking Alcohol After Gastric Sleeve Surgery Recommended?
In preparation for surgery, patients must stop drinking alcohol as part of the pre-op diet. This precaution is taken to avoid complications when anesthesia is administered and to help lower overall weight before surgery.
This dietary adjustment should be maintained after surgery to achieve optimal weight loss. Therefore drinking alcohol is not recommended after bariatric surgery.
How to Drink Alcohol After Bariatric Surgery
If you are cleared to drink alcohol after gastric sleeve surgery, here are some guidelines to follow:
- Avoid alcohol for six months.
- Avoid sweet mixers.
- Don’t drink on an empty stomach to help decrease alcohol absorption.
- Beware of the caloric content of alcohol.
Problems With Drinking Alcohol After Bariatric Surgery
Bariatric surgery increases your body’s sensitivity to alcohol. Before surgery, it might have taken two to three drinks to feel intoxicated, but after surgery, less than one drink can have the same effect. Here are three problems with drinking after bariatric surgery
- Alcohol absorption is faster after surgery, causing you to feel intoxicated more quicker.
- Alcohol levels rise faster than before surgery, increasing the intensity of intoxication.
- Alcohol levels stay raised for longer after surgery.
There is zero tolerance for drinking and driving for bariatric patients.
Alcoholism and addiction: A small percent of patients develop alcohol use issues after surgery (3-5% for bypass and less for gastric sleeve). In general, pre-operative alcohol abuse usually carries over to post-operative.
Risks and Side Effects of Drinking Alcohol
1. Alcohol Lacks Nutrients
Alcohol is an empty calorie inhibiting the absorption and usage of essential nutrients like folic acid and vitamins B12, B1, and B6. It is high in calories providing 7.1kcal per gram, compared to normal carbohydrates providing 4kcal per gram. This extra energy is addictive and can lead to weight gain.
2. Speeds up gastric emptying
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 your small intestine quicker, leaving you feeling hungry. Faster gastric emptying also causes you can get drunk faster.
3. Stretching the Stomach
Binge drinking accelerates stomach stretching, one of the main causes of inadequate weight loss after gastric sleeve surgery. The is counterproductive to the goal of bariatric surgery, and another surgery may be necessary to reverse the damage.
4. Liver Disease
A rare cause of chronic liver disease is non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). This is predominantly seen in morbidly obese individuals. Not treating NAFLD can lead to liver cirrhosis and the need for a liver transplant. Gastric sleeve surgery can help significantly decrease fatty liver, but consuming alcohol after the procedure can worsen it.
Alcohol is a hepatotoxin, meaning it is toxic to your liver. As caloric intake decrease after surgery, the liver works harder to serve as an energy reservoir. It converts biomolecules into energy, and with alcohol consumption, these functions are compromised, which can lead to liver failure.
Gastric Sleeve Digestive Changes
Gastric sleeve surgery is a great option for overweight individuals who are unsuccessful in losing weight through non-surgical means. It is done laparoscopically, reducing post-operative complications and making it one of the safest and most effective bariatric surgeries. By eliminating 80-85% of the stomach, it reduces the production of the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin. This results in less food intake, appetite suppression, an average weight loss of 59% of excess weight, and the reversal of comorbid conditions.
Link Between Alcohol and Obesity
Several studies have found a correlation between alcohol consumption and obesity. Alcohol intake is a cause of weight gain because of its high-calorie nature. The frequency of drinking alcohol isn’t concerning, but rather the volume of alcohol consumption. Study results show that consuming more than 21 glasses of alcohol per week is a risk factor for obesity.
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