Am I Allowed to Drink Alcohol After Bariatric Surgery?

drinking alcohol after weight loss surgery

There are countless ways one can lose weight, however, some methods tend to be more effective and manageable than others. 

For example, bariatric surgery has proven to be an extremely effective way for those with a Body Mass Index (BMI) greater than 40, or who are 100 pounds or 40 kg overweight, to lose that weight quickly and more effectively. 

If you are living with obesity or are concerned about your growing weight but can’t seem to lose it no matter how hard you try, you might be the ideal candidate for bariatric surgery. 

However, the surgery itself isn’t automatically going to help you lose weight. Losing weight requires both exercise and diet control which includes not misusing alcohol.

That brings us to today’s topic: Are patients allowed to drink alcohol after bariatric surgery? For the answer to this question and more read on!

Can Patients Drink Alcohol After Bariatric Surgery?

In short, it is highly recommended to not consume any alcohol at least for the first six months post surgery. 

Even if your doctor gives you permission to drink again, make sure you stay away from carbonated and sugary beverages. 

Also, if you do drink, make sure it is in small quantities and occasionally. After bariatric surgery, even small amounts of alcohol can cause severe intoxication and even lead to life-threatening health problems.

What Complications Can Alcohol Cause After Bariatric Surgery?

The entire purpose of having bariatric surgery is to aid weight loss. While rapidly losing weight your body is low on carbohydrates. This means that your body has reduced amounts of glycogen or sugar. 

Drinking alcohol further depletes glycogen levels which puts patients who have had bariatric surgery at greater risk of developing low blood sugar. Low blood sugar levels can cause patients to faint, brain and nerve damage, and can even be fatal if left untreated. 

If you are diabetic the risks of low blood sugar are even more significant. Patients can experience loss of balance, vision loss, slurred speech, and delirium. In such a case, you should immediately take a glucose tablet or drink a glass of diluted juice. Have some healthy snacks too as they will provide much-needed energy and also help with alcohol absorption. 

Drinking alcohol after bariatric surgery can also result in increased blood alcohol levels. This causes one to feel drunk a lot more quickly and puts them at risk of alcohol use disorders

High blood alcohol levels also take longer to return to normal as a result of your altered metabolism. As your new stomach pouch is designed to absorb nutrients slowly, alcohol can remain in your bloodstream for a lot longer than normal.

alcohol after gastric bypass surgery


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10 Guidelines For Drinking Alcohol After Bariatric Surgery

Alcohol can affect patients differently after certain types of bariatric surgery. For most patients, when drinking alcohol they find themselves feeling intoxicated a lot faster than pre-surgery.

As your stomach is shrunk to limit the amount of food you can eat in one sitting and the absorption rate of nutrients is reduced, alcohol hits a lot harder and faster. 

Blood alcohol levels can also spike much higher than before even if you feel sober, resulting in you getting fined or worse arrested for impaired driving or driving while intoxicated. 

The rapid rise in blood alcohol levels can even happen if you have had just one drink. While that might be within the legal limit for alcohol in your constituency your blood alcohol levels won’t reflect that. 

To ensure that you drink safely and responsibly here are some guidelines for drinking alcohol after gastric bypass.

  1. Refrain from drinking any alcohol for at least six months post-surgery.
  2. Only consume alcohol after consulting with your surgical team.
  3. Refrain from drinking and driving, even if you have had just one drink.
  4. If you do drink make sure you do it while having a meal and in small quantities. Eating while drinking can help slow down the absorption rate of alcohol.
  5. Alcohol also contains calories. Make sure you take that into account to stick to your diet plan.
  6. If you plan on drinking, always arrange for a designated driver.
  7. Be aware that alcohol-related issues can develop even a decade after surgery.
  8. Don't drink if you are on any prescription drugs or pain medication.
  9. If anxiety, stress, depression, or other emotions are causing you to drink more frequently or in larger quantities consult with your doctor or a healthcare professional about your alcohol use.
  10. Always follow the guidelines provided by your surgical team when consuming alcohol after surgery.
drinking wine after bariatric surgery

By following these guidelines, you can ensure that even if you do drink alcohol it doesn’t take away from your weight loss efforts or result in any unforeseen consequences. If you can, avoid drinking altogether, but if you do drink, keep these guidelines in mind.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q) Who should not get bariatric surgery?

Individuals over the age of 75 or under the age of 16 should refrain from bariatric surgery. So should those who have a history of substance abuse, respiratory problems, blood disorders, or a history of cardiovascular disease.

Q) Is it better to lose weight naturally or through surgery?

It is always best to lose weight naturally. However, if you have a BMI of over 35 and are dieting and losing weight only to gain it all back after a few months, surgery might be your only option to keep off that weight once and for all.

Q) What other types of drinks aren’t recommended after bariatric surgery?

Apart from alcohol, caffeine and carbonated beverages should also be avoided for at least three months after surgery. 

Final Thoughts

While you can drink alcohol after bariatric surgery you have to be conscious of the impacts it can have on both your physical and mental health. At the same time, if you want the surgery to be effective you must also maintain a well-balanced bariatric diet that can help support healthy weight management.

At AmBari Nutrition, we specialize in offering high-quality bariatric food products that not only meet unique dietary requirements but also come in delicious forms and flavors. As the trusted source for all types of bariatric foods, including protein bars, shakes, meal replacement, and supplements we are here to aid you on your weight loss journey.

Writer: Carrie H.

Carrie is a dedicated health and nutrition writer with a strong background in medical and scientific research. She is driven by a passion for helping others lead healthier lives, diving into the latest scientific research. Combining evidence-based knowledge with practical advice, Carrie strives to provide accurate and valuable information on health, nutrition, and wellness. Her ultimate aim is to empower readers, enabling them to make informed choices about their well-being.

Reviewed By: Dr. Kevin Huffman

Dr. Kevin D. Huffman, D.O., is a leading board-certified bariatric physician with extensive expertise in treating obesity. He has trained countless healthcare providers and founded American Bariatric Consultants to develop protocols and training materials sought by medical societies, pharmaceutical companies, patients, and hospitals. Dr. Huffman's impact extends beyond patient care as he prepares physicians for board certification, expanding access to this vital treatment.