Original article| Volume 14, ISSUE 3, P277-283, March 2018

Sleeve gastrectomy surgery: when 2 alcoholic drinks are converted to 4

Published:November 09, 2017DOI:



      While it is well established that Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB) causes a rapid and heightened peak blood alcohol concentration (BAC), results from previous studies on the effects of sleeve gastrectomy (SG) on alcohol pharmacokinetics are conflicting. Data from 2 studies found SG did not affect BAC, whereas another study found SG caused a heightened peak BAC after alcohol ingestion. Moreover, these 3 studies estimated BAC from breathalyzers, which might not reliably estimate peak BAC.


      The aims of this study were to evaluate (1) the effect of SG, relative to RYGB and a presurgery group, on alcohol pharmacokinetics and subjective effects, and (2) whether breathalyzers are reliable in this population.


      Single-center prospective nonrandomized trial.


      We performed alcohol challenge tests in 11 women who had SG surgery 1.9 ± .1 years ago (body mass index = 35.1 ± 6.6 kg/m2), 8 women who had RYGB surgery 2.2 ± .4 years ago (body mass index = 30.0 ± 5.2 kg/m2), and 9 women who were scheduled for bariatric surgery (body mass index = 44.1 ± 4.0 kg/m2). BACs were estimated from breath samples and measured by gas chromatography at various times after consuming approximately 2 standard drinks.


      BAC increased faster, peak BAC was approximately 2-fold higher, and feelings of drunkenness were heightened in both SG and RYGB groups relative to the presurgery group (P values<.001). BAC estimated from breath samples underestimated BAC by 27% (standard deviation = 13%) and missed peak BACs postsurgery.


      SG, similar to RYGB, causes marked alterations in the response to alcohol ingestion manifested by a faster and higher peak BAC. The breathalyzer is invalid to assess effects of gastric surgeries on pharmacokinetics of ingested alcohol.


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