Drinking Alcohol After Gastric Bypass SurgeryGastric bypass patients are engaging in risky behavior if they choose to drink alcohol after their operation, according to a new study conducted by researchers at Stanford University.

By comparing the preoperative and postoperative alcohol metabolism in gastric bypass patients, researchers found that patients exhibited a much higher breath alcohol content and required significantly more time to sober up after surgery than before surgery.


For the study, researchers enrolled 19 Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery patients. Their breath alcohol content (BAC) was measured every five minutes after drinking 5 oz of red wine to determine peak BAC and time until sober, before surgery and at 3 and 6 months after surgery.

Study results showed the following:

  • Peak BAC was considerably higher at 3 months (0.059%) and 6 months (0.088%) after surgery than before surgery (0.024%).
  • Time to sober up increased from 49 minutes (before surgery) to 61 minutes (3 months) and 88 minutes (6 months) after surgery.

Intoxication after surgery was associated with lower levels of diaphoresis (excessive sweating), flushing, and hyperactivity and higher levels of dizziness, warmth, and double vision.

After surgery, patients reported drinking considerably less alcohol, fewer patients preferred beer and more patients preferred wine than before surgery.

Researchers want gastric bypass patients to be aware that the operation changes the way the body responds to alcohol. These changes may cause many gastric bypass patients to overuse alcohol, thus raising the risk of weight regain, nutritional deficiencies, and/or alcohol dependence.

Researchers make the following recommendations for gastric bypass patients:

  • Never drink and drive.
  • Limit alcohol consumption to one standard drink (one 12-oz beer, 5-oz wine, or 2-oz liquor) for every two hours.

Based on study results, researchers are urging gastric bypass patients to exercise caution if they choose to continue to drinking alcoholic beverages after their operation. The researchers believe patient education is key to safeguarding the benefits of bariatric surgery and thus want to raise the potential concern about the risks associated with drinking alcohol after gastric bypass surgery.

Source: February 2011, Journal of the American College of Surgeons, “Impaired Alcohol Metabolism after Gastric Bypass Surgery: A Case-Crossover Trial”

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