Alcohol consumption is something that many of us enjoy on an occasional basis in social settings. While alcohol consumption is often part of a patient’s social routine before surgery, many bariatric surgery patients must be aware of alcohol consumption after their procedure. There are many reasons for this including:
- Alcohol can irritate the stomach lining causing discomfort in post bariatric surgery patients. While this discomfort is temporary, it can lead to digestive issues and longer-term discomfort.
- Alcohol is a sugar itself and is then often mixed with high sugar additives. This means that a typical mixed drink may add hundreds of calories and dozens of grams of sugar to our daily intake. If we were to consume too many of these drinks over time, we would be setting ourselves up for significant weight gain. Remember, every 3500 extra calories results in an extra pound of fat.
- Carbonated alcoholic beverages can also be detrimental to a post bariatric patient. Carbonation, much like the alcohol itself can irritate the gastric pouch, but it can also start to stretch the stomach, especially if consumed in large quantity. The stretching can, over time, allow the patient to regain weight.
- Finally, patients should be aware that their new smaller stomach pouch will allow for less dilution and metabolism of the alcohol in their stomach. This means that the alcohol will pass into the small intestine in greater concentration. Some patients will become inebriated more quickly than they would have before surgery. Not only can this lead to impairment when operating machinery, but it can also lead to a higher blood alcohol level sooner, possibly leading to legal consequences.
We do not wish to completely limit your alcohol consumption after surgery. If alcohol is part of the enjoyment you derive at a meal once in a while, it may continue being appropriate in small doses. We ask that you consume it in moderation. If you do begin to consume alcohol, we suggest you do so in very small quantity to understand how your body reacts to it. As a rule of thumb however, the less alcohol you consume after bariatric surgery the better.