Today we're going to talk about drinking after weight loss surgery and some of the negative impacts alcohol can have on weight loss surgery and your post-op care.
Alcoholism has its own set of issues and complications, and we won't be going into that specifically. But we will be talking about how to handle drinking after weight loss surgery. The problem seems to be, "How do you manage drinking alcohol pre-surgery and post-surgery?"
Drinking Before Weight Loss Surgery
We want to resolve any alcoholic tendencies before surgery for those who have an unhealthy or abusive relationship with alcohol. Before bariatric surgery, you should have this under control because surgery is a significant stressor.
When you have surgery, we say it's equivalent to having a substantial loss in life—whether it's a job or something similar—that's the amount and type of stress it brings to the table. If you don't have your drinking under control, you can experience a downward spiral as you're dealing with the issues behind the surgery. And frankly, a lot of the benefits of the surgery will get lost as alcohol if very high in calories and carbs without any nutritional benefit.
The number one issue of drinking before surgery is that it puts you in a place where you cannot do all things that you would want to do pre-surgery to get ready for success.
Drinking After Weight Loss Surgery
Post-surgery, you have this great opportunity to transform your life. Everything is positive, and you are making progress towards your goal. If you let your guard down, you can bring the cons to drinking back into your life. Things that you had under control then can sneak up and bite you. If you drink, you get your calories in without any nutritional value. It then makes it challenging to continue to lose weight.
Similarly, after bariatric surgery, alcohol has a much more significant impact on you. One glass of wine is equivalent to three glasses due to the change in your anatomy and how fast you absorb the alcohol. Most individuals find that where they could drink two to three drinks before they felt an effect from the alcohol, now one glass will get them to that point. So now the tolerance of their alcohol goes down.
If you did struggle with alcohol consumption prior to surgery, we work to make sure it is under control with a good support system in place that allows you to thrive without falling back into that spiral of alcoholism. Once you lose your grip on your control of alcohol, things can tend to spiral. And that can bring other parts of your life into focus that will also spiral out of control; for example, your relationships can break down.
As far as alcohol consumption is concerned, a glass of wine for dinner or a beer on the weekends is not recommended but will not cause significant issues—if it is moderate. Moderation is vital when it comes to alcohol consumption, as it does for all other aspects of post-bariatric surgery living. As we said, you tend to be more impacted by alcohol, so one drink will result in the same effect of two or three drinks.
After bariatric surgery, we would like you not to drink at all. However, if you do, please drink in moderation. And, of course, if drinking after weight loss surgery is something that you are struggling with, please reach out to your primary care physician or your bariatric care team.