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Alcohol & Gastric Bypass - Can They Be Mixed?

Dr. B N Shukla 86% (21 ratings)
Fellowship in Minimal Access Surgery, Fellowship in Bariatric Surgery, M.S.
Bariatrician, Lucknow  •  8 years experience
Alcohol & Gastric Bypass - Can They Be Mixed?

Gastric bypass, one of the weight loss surgeries bring about many changes and alterations (physiological, metabolic, hormonal) in your body. The gastric bypass surgery rearranges the stomach into an upper pouch (the smaller part) and a relatively larger lower part. It is the small pouch that is connected to the small intestine, where the absorption of nutrients and minerals from the ingested food takes place. The surgery plays a significant role in limiting the intake of food. Thus, post-surgery, a person's body reacts differently than it used to before the surgery. Many, if not all, people experience difficulties in coping up with the changes.

Patients are often advised to refrain from alcohol consumption after the gastric bypass surgery. Surprisingly, and quite alarming, cases of alcohol abuse increases post the surgery. According to a survey by the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, few people, who had no prior history of alcohol abuse developed one after the weight loss surgery. What triggers the alcohol abuse in some patients is still a debatable issue.

Many patients experience an emotional breakdown, stress, anxiety, and depression after the surgery. People who needed no reason to binge on food are suddenly expected and made to consume a limited quantity of food. Unable to do what they loved doing the most, people look for an alternate solution. As expected, in most cases, alcohol becomes the much-needed solution. What started as a means of distraction gradually becomes an integral part of life. Hormonal changes associated with the surgery can also result in panic attacks, stress, and anxiety.

Incidences of alcohol abuse may also be high in patients who had a history of drinking (regular or occasional) and smoking before the gastric bypass. Under normal circumstances (before the weight loss surgery), there is a partial enzymatic breakdown of the consumed alcohol in the stomach before it passes into the small intestine. However, post-surgery, the small size of the stomach does not facilitate such enzymatic breakdowns. Thus, the alcohol passes into the intestine, where it gets rapidly absorbed. As a result, a person gets into an inebriated state at a faster rate.

It is because of this reason that doctors advise the patients to keep away from alcohol as much as possible after the surgery. To keep away from or reduce the instances of alcohol abuse after the gastric bypass surgery,

  • Look for healthier and low-calorie food options when you get an urge to eat.
  • Meditate, go for morning and evening walks. These physical activities act as great stress busters.
  • If you are feeling low or going through an emotionally low phase, share it with your loved ones. Do not suppress your emotions.

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