Gastric Bypass Illustration
Gastric Bypass Surgery

Gastric bypass surgery reduces the stomach to a small pouch and bypasses part of the small intestine, so less food will be absorbed when it passes through the gut. Changes in the way the body absorbs and metabolizes alcohol after gastric bypass mean these patients need less alcohol to register intoxication on a breathalyzer, says a study published recently in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.

After drinking a single 5-ounce glass of red wine before their surgery, the study's 19 subjects had an average breath alcohol content of .024% -- well below the level at which most states consider a driver intoxicated.

Three months after surgery, the same glass of red wine resulted in an average breath alcohol content of .059%, and six months post-surgery, the group averaged .088%, which surpasses the .08% widely recognized as the legal threshold for intoxication.

It also took longer for patients to return to complete sobriety in the wake of that drink: Pre-operation, it took subjects 49 minutes to return to complete sobriety after a glass of wine; three months after the operation, it took  61 minutes for that to happen, and six months after surgery, it took 88 minutes.

As always, get to know your body and how it reacts to alcohol by using a breathalyzer.

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Source: Los Angeles Times, Gastric bypass and alcohol: Mix with caution