Drinking and smoking after gastric sleeve

After undergoing gastric sleeve surgery, patients experience significant changes in their bodies, including weight loss and improved health outcomes. However, these changes also require patients to make lifestyle adjustments, including in their habits around alcohol and smoking.

While it’s understandable to miss these habits, it’s important to consider the potential consequences on your health.

In this article, we’ll explore the effects of drinking and smoking after gastric sleeve surgery and offer practical tips for managing these habits and improving your overall health and when to start these habits.

How would smoking affect me after gastric sleeve?

Tobacco smoke makes your blood vessels shrink. It decreases the blood flow to your new stomach. Carbon monoxide is produced when you smoke. This substance lowers the ability of red blood cells to carry oxygen. Consequently, this leads to slow recovery.

What happens if you smoke after gastric sleeve? All this can lead to slower healing following your gastric sleeve surgery if you start smoking too soon. First of all, blood clots can cause strokes and heart attacks. There is also a higher risk of formatting an ulcer and ulcer-related complications, such as bleeding, a stomach blockage, and perforation (holes in your stomach). (1)

Here are the risks of smoking too early after gastric sleeve:

  • formatting ulcers,
  • narrowing the entrance of your new stomach pouch and pain,
  • vomiting and nausea,
  • increasing the risk of blood clotting

You should also know that after sleeve gastrectomy all these health problems and complications related to a sleeve increase for smokers compared to non-smoker patients.

How about vaping, is it okay?

The research indicates that it’s best to avoid vaping before and after gastric sleeve surgery due to potential risks and complications. (2) While there is no evidence that vaping has any direct negative effects on gastric sleeve surgery, it’s essential to keep in mind that vaping is not a healthy habit for anyone. You should take a cautious approach.

It is important to prioritize your health and well-being during the postoperative period and consider all potential impacts on your recovery. 

Are there any exceptions?

Yes, in fact, there might be. In some states medical weed is legal. You may then wonder if it’s possible to smoke your prescribed marijuana after a sleeve gastrectomy. However, you should know that when it comes to prescribed cannabis, there aren’t certain research results on this topic yet. Therefore the main issue here is that we don’t know clearly what the long-term effects of marijuana are after gastric sleeve.

One study suggests that marijuana usage has no impact on complications or weight loss one month after the surgery. As a result, it should not be a contraindication to any kind of weight loss surgery. (3)

If you use prescribed cannabis for a medical purpose, it’s best that you do it in a non-inhaled form. In any case, it’s always best to consult the usage of medical marijuana and its effects on gastric surgery with your doctor, because it may vary from patient to patient.

How would alcohol affect me after the surgery?

You may also ask yourself: why can’t I drink after gastric sleeve? First of all, lower body weight, or just drinking on an empty stomach, makes you more sensitive to alcohol in general. With a sleeve gastrectomy, this impact is even bigger. 

With the reduced capacity of your stomach, even a small amount of alcohol can have a significant impact, potentially leading to a rapid drop in blood sugar or consequently intoxication. Therefore, it’s important to approach alcohol consumption with caution and moderation.

How exactly does it work? Remember that around 80% of your stomach is removed. If the stomach can’t break as much of the alcohol down, more of it will be absorbed by your system. This way alcohol is going to affect you much quicker and stronger. When your stomach is that much smaller, there is less of the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase in the body.

The best way to avoid it is to pay close attention to how your body feels and reacts. Increase your self-awareness on alcohol consumption. Note how you feel even after small amounts and regularly check in with yourself. Always consult any worrying symptoms with your doctor.

How long after gastric sleeve can I drink alcohol?

An important question that comes up next is: when can I have alcohol after gastric sleeve? You should definitely avoid it for three months and that’s an absolute minimum. It’s recommended that you don’t drink alcohol for six months following your surgery. However, some doctors approve of the small amount of consumption when the patients start their solid food diet. (4)

Which alcoholic beverage would be a wise choice?

You probably wonder what the best alcohol to drink after gastric sleeve is. Let’s say you’re eating out after gastric sleeve and want a drink, what’s the least problematic beverage? The most important thing here is the sugar amount and calorie intake. Here’s what to try if you feel like having a drink several weeks after your surgery.

Distilled Alcohol  
Gin (80 proof)1.5 oz (45 ml)97
Rum (80 proof)1.5 oz (45 ml)97
Vodka (80 proof)1.5 oz (45 ml)97
Whiskey (80 proof)1.5 oz (45 ml)97
Beer (light)12 oz (355 ml)103
Beer (regular)12 oz (355 ml)153
Beer (higher alcohol, craft beers)12 oz (355 ml)170 to 350
White table wine5 oz (145 ml)128
Red table wine5 oz (145 ml)125

When it comes to wine, a small glass of red or white after gastric sleeve is a fine quality of alcohol use. It may have some antioxidant benefits when consumed modestly.

Keep in mind that light beer has fewer calories than a regular one, but be careful with carbonation. Drinking beer or any sort of wheat-based alcohol can give your stomach discomfort because of bloating. That’s why it may be wise to restrain from it when choosing your alcoholic drink after gastric sleeve.

I can't stop drinking and smoking, what should I do?

For some people, certain habits may be a sort of trigger when it comes to smoking. It might be a morning cup of coffee, a cigarette after a meal, or simply a quick break at work. How can you avoid the urge to smoke?

Whenever you feel like having a cigarette, try to postpone your craving for, let’s say, 10 or 15 minutes. Then try doing something that will distract you during this time. That kind of psychological trick can help you forget your tobacco craving for a while. Also, remember that “just one” cigarette may lead to many more.

If you feel you can find enough strength to quit, talk to your doctor so that you can try overcoming your addiction with their help and support. Remember, your doctor, psychologist, and dietitian are here to help you.

Let’s say you tried quitting but it didn’t work out or maybe you just simply don’t want to stop drinking and smoking after gastric sleeve at this moment in your life. The question is then: when can you drink and smoke after a gastric sleeve procedure? It’s best if you don’t smoke for at least one month before and 4 to 6 weeks after your surgery and you should definitely stay away from alcohol at least for three months.


(1) Li L, Wu LT. Substance use after bariatric surgery: A review. J Psychiatr Res. 2016 May;76:16-29. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2016.01.009. Epub 2016 Jan 22. PMID: 26871733; PMCID: PMC4789154.


(2) Srikanth N, Xie L, Morales-Marroquin E, Ofori A, de la Cruz-Muñoz N, Messiah SE. Intersection of smoking, e-cigarette use, obesity, and metabolic and bariatric surgery: a systematic review of the current state of evidence. J Addict Dis. 2021 Jul-Sep;39(3):331-346. doi: 10.1080/10550887.2021.1874817. Epub 2021 Feb 5. PMID: 33543677.


(3) Shockcor N, Adnan SM, Siegel A, Wise E, Zafar SN, Kligman M. Marijuana use does not affect the outcomes of bariatric surgery. Surg Endosc. 2021 Mar;35(3):1264-1268. doi: 10.1007/s00464-020-07497-5. Epub 2020 Mar 12. PMID: 32166550.


(4) Vidot DC, Prado G, De La Cruz-Munoz N, Spadola C, Cuesta M, Messiah SE. Postoperative marijuana use and disordered eating among bariatric surgery patients. Surg Obes Relat Dis. 2016 Jan;12(1):171-8. doi: 10.1016/j.soard.2015.06.007. Epub 2015 Jun 15. PMID: 26363714; PMCID: PMC4679721.


(5) Nielsen SJ, Kit BK, Fakhouri T, Ogden CL. Calories consumed from alcoholic beverages by U.S. adults, 2007-2010. NCHS Data Brief. 2012 Nov;(110):1-8. PMID: 23384768.


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