A gastric bypass is the most common type of operation of operation to tackle obesity and 95 percent of Swedish clinics currently addressing the problem use the method.
The popularity of the gastric bypass, which redirects food past the stomach and into the small intestine, has coincided with the emergence of new group of post-op substance abusers.
A new Swedish study has now established that there is a direct connection between the operation itself and a heightened risk of alcohol abuse.
The study covered all 12,000 patients who underwent various surgeries to tackle obesity, of which around half had gastric bypasses, for the first time between 1980 and 2006 and were checked against a control sample of 120,000 members of the general public.
The risk of alcohol abuse had been considered higher among those due for operation, but the study shows that the risk was double as high in the group which underwent gastric bypasses in comparison to those undergoing other forms of restrictive surgery.
“Our conclusion is that a gastric-bypass operation increases the risk for alcohol abuse. It is not that the operation makes you an abuser, but if you have that problem previously then you should be aware of the effects that the operation could have,” said Magdalena Plecka Östlund, one of the researchers behind the study, in an interview with Dagens Medicin.
Plecka Östlund called for a greater awareness of the problem.
“As doctors, we have to be better at informing patients if there is such a risk and be more on our guard to discover abuse.”