Post Surgery

Can You Drink Alcohol After Bariatric Surgery?

by Brenda Hoehn on Apr 11, 2024

Can You Drink Alcohol After Bariatric Surgery?


Can You Drink Alcohol After Bariatric Surgery?

Undergoing bariatric surgery is the beginning of a new life chapter. After surgery, your lifestyle must support the changes to your GI tract, additional nutritional needs, and physical wellness. Maintaining a healthy, balanced diet, including controlling your alcohol consumption, is a vital aspect of post-surgery life.

In general, bariatric patients do not have to eliminate alcohol from their diets after surgery completely. However, it is crucial that you thoughtfully consider if alcohol consumption is something that fits in with your post-surgery lifestyle.

This article addresses the multiple ways alcohol can impact someone who has received bariatric surgery, what incorporating alcohol into a post-surgery lifestyle may entail, and the steps you can take to avoid over-consumption.

If you have questions about drinking alcoholic beverages after bariatric surgery, read along to learn more.

Bariatric Surgery and the Effects of Alcohol: Overview

Following bariatric surgery, patients who imbibe alcoholic drinks may experience:

  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Inhibited weight loss
  • Addiction transfer
  • Rapid intoxication
  • Extended recovery times
  • Increased sensitivity to alcohol
  • Low blood sugar (Hypoglycemia)

As a bariatric patient, consult your healthcare team before adding any new substance to your diet.

Nutritional Deficiencies

Alcohol can contribute to nutritional deficiencies, which are already a concern for bariatric surgery patients. Alcoholic drinks are low in nutrients. And, as a bariatric patient, the more alcohol you consume, the less room you have for food and essential nutrients in your stomach. The decline in vitamin and mineral absorption can exacerbate deficiencies in vitamin B12, folate, and iron. These deficiencies can have worrying health implications.

Inhibited Weight Loss and Weight Management

Consuming alcoholic beverages can have adverse effects on weight management goals. Alcohol is high in calories and low in nutrients, which can interfere with the weight loss process. Additionally, alcohol can lead to poor dietary choices, fatigue, reduced motivation, and even depression.

Addiction Transfer

Some research suggests a phenomenon known as "addiction transfer," where individuals who have had bariatric surgery might develop new addictions, including alcohol use disorder (AUD), after their surgery. This can occur because someone’s compulsive behavior, which they previously focused on food consumption, might transfer to other substances or behaviors. Possible addictions include:

  • Alcohol
  • Drugs
  • Gambling
  • Sex
  • Shopping

Extended Recovery Times

Bariatric surgery reduces the body’s levels of alcohol dehydrogenase, an enzyme in the stomach lining that jump-starts the processes to metabolize alcohol. The altered metabolism can cause alcohol to stay in your system for a more extended period, potentially leading to prolonged intoxication.

Increased Sensitivity and Rapid Intoxication

Typically, the less body fat an individual carries, the more susceptible they are to the intoxicating effects of alcohol. As a bariatric patient begins to lose weight, it is not uncommon for their alcohol tolerance to decrease.

Ultimately, patients may become intoxicated more quickly and from smaller amounts of alcohol post-surgery. This rapid intoxication can increase the risks of alcohol-related harm, including alcohol poisoning, accidents, and injuries.

Low Blood Sugar (Hypoglycemia)

Rapid weight loss and a notable decrease in carbohydrate consumption are associated with bariatric surgery and can cause your blood sugar levels to drop. Alcohol can also deplete your blood sugar. The combination of rapid weight loss, a decrease in dietary carbohydrates, and alcohol consumption may result in hypoglycemia.

Symptoms of hypoglycemia include:

  • Confusion
  • Poor vision
  • Slurred speech
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Brain and nerve damage
  • Inhibited balance and coordination
  • Potential fatality

Guidelines for Drinking After Bariatric Surgery

Given the potential effects of alcoholic beverages, healthcare professionals advise bariatric surgery patients to avoid alcohol for at least the first six months of the postoperative period.

Protect your well-being by discussing your alcohol consumption with your healthcare team to understand the appropriate guidelines and risks. After receiving permission, be particularly mindful of taking the necessary steps for responsible alcohol consumption:

  • Avoid carbonation and sugary mixers.
  • Never drink and drive (even after one drink).
  • Remain conscientious of calorie content.
  • Do not use alcohol to manage emotions and stress.

Being aware of the symptoms of alcohol misuse and seeking help if you notice problematic drinking habits developing will also help you avoid serious consequences.

We recommend that your first attempt at consuming spirits and other alcoholic beverages should be in a safe environment with people you trust, as it may cause unfamiliar—and potentially dangerous—side effects.

Protect Your Health with ProCare Bariatric Supplements

Bariatric surgery is a single step in your journey toward sustained success. ProCare Health is a dedicated, passionate resource for bariatric vitamins, supplements, educational resources, and community support. With products like our incredible, once-daily multivitamins and bariatric education from our in-house professional, Brenda Hoehn, MSN, BSN, RN, CHTP, we believe that individuals from all walks of life can find the solutions they need with ProCare Health.

To learn more about ProCare Health’s products and resources, please visit