Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Can the effects of cirrhosis be reversed through treatment?"
Hi. I am a 47 year old woman with cirrhosis. I have stopped drinking alcohol and would like to know if my cirrhosis will go away now that I've stopped.
Cirrhosis is a generic term that describes scarring of the liver. There are many things that can cause cirrhosis, including viral infections, medications, and alcohol use. Although the mechanism that leads to the scarring is different in each case, the final common pathway is the same (scarring and shrinking of the liver) and it is this final common pathway that is called cirrhosis. Because cirrhosis does involve scarring of the liver, it is irreversible. Stopping to consume alcohol will not make the cirrhosis go away, even after many months or years. However, what stopping drinking does do is that it prevents ongoing damage to the liver. Even in cirrhosis, there are pockets of the liver tissue that are functioning normally, and stopping alcohol consumption prevents damage to those areas. Therefore, although the cirrhosis will not go away, not drinking will potentially allow you to live a normal life, depending on how bad the damage to your liver already is. Your should talk to your primary care doctor and your liver doctor about this issue, as people with cirrhosis have several special health needs that should be routinely addressed, such as vaccinations against hepatitis and preventing of dilated veins inside the esophagus.