"In gastric bypass, you have a small pouch and the pouch is directly connected with the small bowel. When you consume alcohol, your levels of alcohol go directly up because it goes directly into your small bowel with better absorption," said Dr, George Mutafyan, the medical director of bariatric services at Glendale Adventist Medical Center in Glendale.
In a Journal of the American Medical Association study, researchers followed 2,500 bariatric surgery patients. The majority had the standard gastric bypass, while 25 percent underwent laparscopic gastric banding. They found only in the gastric bypass group did sensitivity to alcohol go up.
"In the first post-operative year, there wasn't a significant change. But by the second post-operative year, 10.7 had reported symptoms, which was a 50 percent increase," said Dr. Wendy C. King of the University of Pittsburgh of Public Health.
Researchers said that while it's important to understand the risks of gastric bypass surgery, experts say the study is not a reason to avoid the surgery.
"I think what we should do is to give good education and inform patients that this is the risk, and they have to be treated and monitored before and after surgery," Mutafyan said.
Social support is also important. Patients who reported a lower sense of belonging were at higher risk for post-operative alcohol problems.