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March 17, 2006

Alcohol and Gastric Bypass

Alcohol A recent study reported in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology found that the gastric bypass procedure significantly affects alcohol absorption and its inebriating influence. According to the study protocol, a group of gastric bypass patients, three years post-surgery, and their non-surgical controls consumed an alcoholic drink containing 20% v/v alcohol (95% ethanol), and blood alcohol levels were examined over a period of time. The data showed that blood alcohol levels of the gastric bypass patients were far higher and required much less time to peak than those of the non-surgical controls.

The more rapid absorption of alcohol and heightened blood alcohol levels would cause the bariatric patient to have a more pronounced feeling of inebriation during and shortly after drinking.

Alcohol2_1 Why would alcohol absorption be higher for someone who has had gastric bypass? With the gastric bypass procedure, 95% of the stomach and the upper gut (duodenum and a portion of the jejunum) are bypassed. Alcohol passes directly from the stomach pouch, usually without restriction, into the second portion of the gut, known as the jejunum. This portion of the gut has a large surface area and readily and rapidly absorbs the alcohol.

In addition to anatomical changes in the tract that influence alcohol absorption, the gastric bypass patient may also be more sensitive to the intoxicating effects of alcohol because of the reduced calorie intake that occurs after surgery. A number of studies have found that alcohol absorption is far higher if fasting or when consumed on an empty stomach than if provided with a meal or drank soon thereafter.

Drinking alcohol in the early postoperative period may have other adverse effects on health. Frequent vomiting, low calorie intake, not taking multivitamins and malabsorption may cause a number of vitamin and mineral deficits, including thiamin.

Addiction transfer is yet another precaution to be considered with regard to alcohol. The prevalence of food addiction and associated eating abnormalities, i.e. binge eating, carbohydrate cravings, are high among individuals with morbid obesity. With bariatric surgery, the addictive tendencies for food and aberrant eating behavior are considerably improved. However, individuals with addictions often transfer their addiction to yet another substance, such as alcohol. According to the findings of one study, addiction transfer may occur in up to 25% of bariatric patients.

Drinking alcohol after surgery may also reduce maximal weight loss success. Alcohol has no nutrient benefits and contains high numbers of calories that may cause weight gain or prevent weight loss. One 12-ounce can of beer, for instance, contains 150 calories; 3.5 ounces of wine contains 70 calories; 1.5 ounces of gin, rum, vodka or whiskey contains between 97 and 124 calories; and 1.5 ounces of liquor contains 160 calories.

The bariatric patient should absolutely NOT drink alcohol during the rapid weight loss period and definitely not if consuming no or low carbohydrates, not taking vitamin and mineral supplements, vomiting frequently, or not able to keep their food down. However, with time, there is no reason an individual should not be able to enjoy an occasional drink, provided they are aware that it only takes a small amount of alcohol to produce an inebriating effect. With such knowledge, appropriate precautions should be taken, such as waiting a sufficient length of time after drinking to drive or perform other skilled tasks.


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I would be interested if this blog is still active? I am finding similar affects and I am 8 years post gastric bypass. If anyone knows the affect on the liver etc that is my concern. The transference has to be a factor ... however I really thought I was past that by now...


I stumbled upon this after being arrested for DUI this past Friday morning. I don't know how I could possibly be functioning, as the breathalyzer read .19. It continued to read .19 after an hour after I was arrested. I'm very concerned, as I've never had an issue with drinking or BAC before. Have any additional or ongoing studies been published on this issue?


i can relate to this i admitted myself into a treatment center cause i felt i was an alcoholic...but i see now im really not


plz anyone feel free to email me i need advice im an army wife and im losing my family


I had my GB in 1998. I lost a lot of weight, but I guess it did not fix the hurt inside. I ended up replacing alcohol for food and at the age of 56 with no prior problems with drinking or the law, ended up with a number of DUI's in 2004. It is still a struggle even now. I have met many post GB surgery patients in 12 Step programs that are either alcoholics that have gained most of their weight back or started taking meth to make them selves feel better and yet stay "slim". I think today the medical field is doing better at warning patients about the dangers of cross-addiction. There is light at the end of the tunnel but it sure takes some work to get there.


Ditto everyone, had GPS 2003 and by 2005 had to have an intervention because it seemed like all of a sudden i was an alkie. stayed sober for 5 years and just fell off of the wagon when the economy failed and I lost my home and had to start over. I get drunk so quick and sometimes black out too. It is scary and I have started to see a therapist for help, and yes post GPs we fry our livers quicker than normal because of the high absorption rate.


I am 7 months out and I want to drink all the time. I am drinking 4-5 times a week. I have some depression about it after I drink, but while I am drinking I have the best time. I cant figure out if this is a good or a bad thing

elmer alvarado

its been 2 weeks after my GB SURGERY and im drinking 2 beers only... is this real bad?


Are there any court cases that defend the gb patient if they have lost their job? Accussed of drinking on the job. Not so, the night before they did. They had a 22 yr. history of perfect drug test til then. Any info emailed to me would be great. Thanks

Keeping the faith

I had gastric bypass 2 years ago. I was a "party girl" prior to surgery and could really throw them back,but only on the weekends.Now I find myself drinking a bottle a wine a day and feel like CRAP the next day! I'm weak,dizzy and just don't feel good at all! I'm giving up the wine! I just can't feel like CRAP everyday! What causes the really bad hangovers that last all day?

RN David

Congratulations with your achievement and continue to inspire others. I am a private nurse and we have a senior patient who is morbidly obese, his doctor do not recommend surgery with his age. Roca Labs gastric bypass no surgery was advised as alternative and works safely. He is recovering his healthy weight with an average of 2-3 lbs a week. Saved himself from sugical cost and complications. What's good is, there is no diet nor restrictions. Whichever way, best of luck!


I am 3 weeks post op and I was wondering when it would be safe to have a drink


Since my GB sugery, I too have noticed my acohol intake changes. I dont consume as much per
" drinking' session. But it sure does affect me difertently. I get buzzed a lot quicker and before i know it, i began to have memmory loss form the alcohol consupmtion. I do not like this and am trying to be able to enjoys a night out the boys without the side effects of memory loss. I have gone fron drinking hard liquor to beer and still experienced memory loss,I then went to light beer and still suffered memory loss. The only thing that has worked ie to drink EXTRA LIGHT beer such as Miller64( 2.8%) alcohol beer or even Labbat 52(2.1%) beer. With this I was still able to enjoy a night out and still be able to remember all of it the next day.


my husband had the gastric bypass almot 5 months ago and has already lost 50% of his body weight. He has never been a big drinker but on occasion he liked to have a drink or 2. He has not had any drinks since surgery. But has been sying lately he would like to have A drink. Is there any preference as to what type of drink wont do (big) harm to him if its only 1. like beer, wine,or liquors? thanks for any suggestions.

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