Effects of Alcohol Consumption after Bariatric Surgery

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By: Shannon McCarthy

The prevalence of obesity has dramatically increased and with that so has the prevalence of bariatric surgeries. There are different forms of bariatric surgery but the main goal is to restrict the amount of food going into the stomach and/or slow the rate that food comes out of the stomach. In recovery from this surgery, patients are encouraged to maintain a healthy diet and regularly exercise in order to keep the weight off. Bariatric patients are also told to avoid smoking and taking certain medications that lead to stomach disruption, since now the stomach is smaller and at a higher risk for medical issues. Also related to this is the consumption of alcohol since it is directly related to the stomach and digestion of liquids.


Studies have been conducted to assess post-surgery tests on the effects of alcohol absorption, mechanisms, elimination and health concerns. Most studies show negative effects of alcohol consumption after bariatric surgery, in fact, one of the leading causes of deaths of bariatric patients is alcohol cirrhosis.1 This disease is liver disease directly related to alcohol consumption, also called the alcoholic liver disease. It was found that patients had higher peak alcohol levels, absorbed alcohol faster and took longer to excrete it.1 Therefore, there are very harmful side effects related to alcohol consumption and it is a very bad idea for a bariatric patient to consume alcohol post surgery.

Quitting drinking is easier said than done for many bariatric patients. There may be a relation to addictive behaviors and tendencies such as substance use and overeating.1 This means that not only are these patients coping from the pain, complications, and lifestyle changes of post surgery, but if they drank alcohol before surgery they are also suffering from alcohol withdrawals. Since there is this correlation between addictive behaviors, there is a fairly large population of bariatric patients that have trouble with alcohol abuse as well. There are psychological and physiological properties relating to these addictive behaviors so they should be taken seriously and treated with care.2


Li L, Wu L. Review article: Substance use after bariatric surgery: A review. Journal Of Psychiatric Research [serial online]. May 1, 2016;76:16-29. Available from: ScienceDirect, Ipswich, MA. Accessed September 19, 2016. Effects of Alcohol After Bariatric Surgery (RBA). Washington School of Medicine. April 22, 2013. Accessed September 10, 2016.


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