Drinking Alcoholic Beverages After Weight Loss Surgery
It’s often not realistic to expect most weight loss surgery patients to never have another alcoholic beverage again post-op. In fact, most people who’ve had some type of bariatric procedure are able to responsibly enjoy “adult” beverages in social situations that may include weddings, holiday gatherings, and work-related engagements. The key word here is “responsible,” meaning there are some important things that should be kept in mind when it comes to alcohol consumption post-surgery.
A Year or Less Post-Surgery – No Alcohol
During the first year following gastric sleeve, laparoscopic adjustable gastric band (Lap-Band), or roux-en-y gastric bypass surgery, alcohol should be avoided. This is because the liver and other organs will already be under stress due to adjustments related to significant weight loss. Adding alcohol to the mix can over-stress these organs, especially the liver.
Alcohol Will Be Digested Differently
When it’s safe to consume alcohol again, realize that it will be digested differently after most common types of weight loss surgery. If you have the type of surgery that involves the creation of a smaller pouch, for instance, alcohol will be absorbed at full potency, which means just one drink could lead to embarrassing social situations and potentially endanger your health – and maybe even experience alcohol poisoning if you really overdo it. Avoid this potential problem by:
- Taking your first drink post-surgery at home where you can be supervised by a friend or loved one
- Only having a few sips until you get a better feel for what your reaction to alcohol will be
- Opting for a weak drink without sugared mixers
- Above all, check with your doctor first
Avoid Potentially Dangerous Situations
When easing back into drinking after weight loss surgery, it’s best to be with a trusted friend or loved one who knows about what you’re going through so they can spot signs suggesting you need some assistance. Casual friends, co-workers, and new acquaintances may not fully understand the importance of paying attention to your behavior after you start drinking. On a related note, shots should be avoided entirely since consuming that much alcohol that quickly is never safe for bariatric patients.
Be Mindful of Transfer Addiction Possibilities
Some weight loss surgery patients who had a food compulsion prior to their procedure develop what’s called a transfer addiction after surgery. This means that alcohol replaces food as a source of comfort. Research suggests this problem is more prevalent among gastric bypass or sleeve patients and less common with Lap-Band patients. If you think you may be developing an alcohol problem post-surgery, seek professional assistance.
If you do opt to occasionally indulge post-surgery, another word to keep in mind is “moderation.” Also, stay away from high-calorie alcoholic beverages like Long Island iced teas, margaritas, and daiquiris. Should you decide that drinking alcoholic beverages after bariatric surgery isn’t right for you, there are some ways you can avoid awkward social situations. For example, you could use a wine glass to hold your water so well-meaning friends don’t insist on getting you something to drink when they see you empty-handed.