Alcohol use and weight-loss surgery

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Alcohol should be used with extreme caution, if at all, after weight loss surgery.

Alcohol has a stronger effect after surgery. The way alcohol is absorbed changes. The stomach enzyme that starts the absorption process is reduced, and alcohol reaches your intestines sooner. This means alcohol hits you faster and affects you more than before surgery.

Alcohol may cause weight gain. Alcohol has a lot of calories. This can cause you to gain weight or have difficulty losing weight after bariatric surgery. A glass of wine or beer is about 100–150 calories.

Alcohol can cause malnutrition. Alcohol does not have any good nutrients. It also can cause low vitamin levels.

Alcohol may lead to dumping syndrome. Most drinks with alcohol have a lot of sugar that could cause dumping syndrome. Signs include nausea, diarrhea, feeling faint, shakiness and feeling the need to lie down.

Alcohol might affect your liver. Alcohol can damage your liver. The liver breaks down alcohol so it can be removed from the body. After surgery, alcohol makes your liver work harder. That could hurt the liver if you drink too much alcohol.

Alcohol can contribute to dehydration. Alcohol can make you urinate (pee) more. Vomiting after drinking alcohol also can make you dehydrated (low on fluids).

Alcohol impairs judgment. People may make poor choices after drinking. This includes driving but also food choices. People tend to eat more when drinking.

Alcohol can increase risk of ulcers. Drinking alcohol increases the risk of stomach ulcers.

Alcohol is addictive. People who have bariatric surgery are at greater risk for alcohol problems. Even if you have never had any problems with alcohol. People with a previous history of addiction (alcohol, drugs, binge eating, etc.) have a greater risk.


  • It is recommended you do not use alcohol after bariatric surgery. 
  • If you choose to drink, limit yourself to one or less. 
  • Do not drink as you are rapidly losing weight. 
  • Eat if you plan to drink.  
  • Never drive if you have been drinking, even if only a sip. 

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