Bariatric surgery is considered to be the most effective and durable treatment for severe obesity, but a new study finds a high prevalence of alcohol abuse among bariatric surgery patients, especially in the second year after surgery.
University of Pittsburgh researchers studied nearly 2,500 bariatric surgery patients.
Results show the prevalence of alcohol abuse or dependence did not change much from the year before surgery or the first year after surgery, but researchers say the frequency of alcohol consumption and abuse was significantly higher in the second year after surgery, and specifically after roux-en-y gastric bypass.
Experts say this type of procedure changes how patients metabolize and absorb alcohol, they can become intoxicated faster with less alcohol, and it takes a longer time to reach sobriety.
Researchers say bariatric surgery patients should be educated about the potential effects of the surgery, but doctors say they should not keep someone from having it.
"People who have had past problems with alcohol probably should be educated, maybe even get a little treatment before surgery and they should be monitored after surgery. Some of the differences that we saw, at least in this study, in terms of surgery type, that may be an important thing to discuss with their surgeon," said Cleveland Clinic psychologist Leslie Heinburg, Ph.D.
Complete findings for this study are in the "Journal Of The American Medical Association."