Many of the women and men considering weight loss surgery at our Toronto surgical centre ask about the possibility of drinking alcohol after the procedure. The answer is more complicated than yes or no, as everyone is unique. We recommend that all patients discuss the subject thoroughly with our clinician team, as part of our exclusive 5-Year Aftercare Success Program.
In general, healthy patients should only gradually return to drinking small amounts of alcohol, and they should be aware that their bodies may react differently to alcohol consumption after weight loss surgery. Those changes are explained in this post.
Your Metabolism Changes
After bariatric surgery, such as a mini gastric bypass or gastric sleeve or Lap-Band (gastric band) procedure, research shows that the level of alcohol in a person’s blood reaches its peak more quickly and at a higher level because of changes to their metabolism. Those changes also slow the return to normal. This is often coupled with the tendency of post-weight loss surgery patients to consume less food when drinking alcohol, expediting the absorption of alcohol in the bloodstream. People who used to be able to consume a couple of drinks without significantly elevating their blood alcohol level may now only need a single drink to reach that same level after weight loss surgery.
Blood Sugar Awareness
When you lose weight rapidly and reduce carbohydrates, the result can be reduced blood sugar levels. Drinking alcohol can reduce glycogen and cause blood sugar levels to drop, elevating the risk of hypoglycemia for post-bariatric surgery patients. This dangerous condition can result in losing consciousness. If left untreated, it can lead to nerve damage and even death.
If you do drink alcohol after weight loss surgery, you should be aware of hypoglycemia symptoms. They include loss of coordination and balance, slurred speech, poor vision, and confusion.
Higher Caloric Intake
Bariatric surgery patients who want to lose weight more quickly should avoid drinking alcohol, which is high in calories and low in nutrients. It may even cause weight gain.
Guidelines for Drinking Alcohol
If you choose to drink alcohol after undergoing weight loss surgery, you can do so safely and lead a healthy lifestyle by following these guidelines:
- Wait at least 6 months after bariatric surgery before drinking alcohol.
- Communicate with the dietitians and medical providers who are part of your 5-Year Aftercare Success Program before resuming drinking.
- Once you’re cleared to drink alcohol, avoid carbonated drinks and mixers that are high in sugar.
- Pay close attention to the amount of alcohol you consume because even small amounts can cause intoxication and lower your blood sugar levels.
- Never drink and drive, even after drinking a small amount of alcohol.
- Always eat while drinking to slow the absorption of alcohol.
- If you find it difficult to refrain from drinking, seek help from a doctor.
Our team provides nutritional support that includes advice about incorporating drinking into your diet, if safe. By following these guidelines, you can remain on your weight loss journey and maintain a healthy quality of life.
Weight Loss Surgery in Toronto from Canada’s First Bariatric Center of Excellence
Weight loss surgery is a life-changing decision to improve your overall health, confidence, and energy levels. When you choose SmartShape for your weight loss surgery, you don’t have to worry about going on your journey alone. You’ll have access to our clinical team of registered dietitians, nurses, and board-certified bariatric surgeons for five years following your surgery. They’ll be with you every step of the way as you navigate your new, healthy lifestyle.
If you’re considering weight loss surgery in Canada and want to learn more about your options at our bariatric clinic in Toronto, book a free virtual consultation with one of our weight loss surgeons to discuss your goals and how we can help you.