Patients often ask us whether or not it’s safe to drink alcohol after bariatric surgery in Mexico. The answer often surprises them, and it becomes a factor for whether or not they want to get the surgery in the first place.
Alcohol, as we all know, isn’t particularly good for us. It’s highly addictive, and it’s not difficult to drink too much of it in one sitting. However, many of us like to have a few drinks sometimes, and some of us drink beverages like red wine for their health benefits.
So let’s answer the question: is it safe to drink alcohol after bariatric surgery?
Can You Drink Alcohol After Bariatric Surgery?
The answer: it depends! However, it’s generally not recommended and is prohibited by most surgeons until 4 weeks post-op.
To understand why this is, let’s talk about alcohol itself and what it does to the body. Alcohol is digested by the stomach, absorbed into the bloodstream through the small intestine, travels through the bloodstream where it exerts its effects, and is then processed by the liver and kidneys. As the liver breaks down the alcohol, it produces metabolites like methanol which are toxic to the body. Alcohol and its metabolites eventually leave the body through micturition and respiration.
It’s important to note that alcohol is absorbed primarily in the small intestine. After bariatric surgery (specifically gastric bypass in Mexico and other similar procedures), part of the small intestine is bypassed during digestion. This means that the alcohol gets absorbed into the bloodstream more quickly. In turn, the patient feels the effects of alcohol more quickly.
This isn’t the only reason why alcohol is generally discouraged after surgery. Many bariatric surgery patients undergo the procedure in order to eliminate the effects of years of food addiction. After getting weight loss surgery, a patient has much less of an appetite and is unable to eat in the same manner they used to. As a result, addictive behaviors surrounding food start to fall away. Alcohol, a highly addictive substance, can provide a substitute behavior that could result in alcoholism.
What’s more is that alcohol contains “empty” calories. Each gram of alcohol contains 7 calories. Most low-alcohol beverages like beer and wine contain carbohydrates as well. Spirits such as vodka contain no other calorie sources, but a shot of vodka contains 70 calories (about as much as an Oreo cookie) all from alcohol. Excess alcohol consumption is linked to obesity as a result.
When Is It Safe To Drink Alcohol After Bariatric Surgery?
Generally, a patient will want to wait at least a month after surgery before consuming alcoholic beverages again.
Drinking alcohol within a month of the operation is not a good idea. Most likely, the alcohol will be rejected and the result will be abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. If it is not rejected, you’ll find that you’ll get far too drunk too quickly, and this could cause alcohol poisoning at a much lower quantity of alcohol than expected.
However, we recommend that bariatric surgery patients abstain from regular drinking entirely and to avoid bingeing entirely as well. Not only is it an unhealthy habit, it can slow down weight loss and even cause weight gain. Having a drink or two every once in a while is okay, though, and alcohol should be reserved for celebrations and rare occasions.