Weight Loss Surgery Lowers Women’s Alcohol Tolerance

by Raksha Hegde last updated -

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If you are considering having a gastric sleeve surgery to lose weight, you may have to cut back on the number of alcoholic drinks you consume post-surgery.

Women who have had gastric sleeve surgery could be legally intoxicated after drinking half the number of drinks as compared to women who did not have this surgery. This is according to a study done by researchers from the University of Illinois and Washington University on women as they are more likely to opt for this surgery. Gastric sleeve surgery speeds up alcohol absorption into the bloodstream due to which blood alcohol levels spike much faster after drinking.

Gastric sleeve surgery, also known as sleeve gastrectomy, is currently the most favored weight-loss surgical procedure in the U.S. and other countries. The restrictive surgical operation, which is similar to Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB), makes the stomach smaller because of which people feel full a lot quicker and shed pounds easily.

“After having a sleeve gastrectomy, if a woman has a couple of drinks, she could be exposing her brain to blood alcohol levels that are achieved in a woman without surgery when she consumes four or five drinks,” said first author M. Belen Acevedo, Ph.D., from the team at University of Illinois. “Drinking, such that it raises blood alcohol levels above legal drinking limits, is considered a binge drinking episode and has been associated with an increased risk of developing alcohol problems.”

In the all-women study, 11 women who had sleeve surgery, eight that had RYGB surgery within 1-5 years, and nine women who have not had either surgery, were evaluated in two sessions. In one session, the women had the equivalent of two standard alcoholic drinks over a 10-minute period. In another session, they were given non-alcoholic drinks. Researchers measured the change in blood alcohol levels using gas chromatography and compared them to estimations of blood alcohol levels obtained from using a breathalyzer. Researchers also asked questions to the women to verify the level of drunkenness. For the women in the non-surgery group, blood alcohol contents peaked at 0.6 g/L in about 26 minutes after they finished drinking. In those who had undergone sleeve surgery and RYGB, blood alcohol contents peaked at 1.1 and 1.0 g/L in about 9 and 5 minutes, respectively, after finishing the drink. The women who had undergone surgery also showed more intense feelings of drunkenness.

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About the Author

Raksha Hegde is the content director at Organic Facts and helps oversee a team of brilliant, dynamic content writers. A former business news journalist and editor, Raksha followed her passion for wellness to become a certified Yoga teacher and a wellness festival curator. She believes learning never really stops. She has completed her MS in Broadcast Journalism from Boston University and is currently pursuing “Introduction to Food and Health” e-course offered by Stanford University, US. 

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