Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Is there any way to reverse damage done to your liver?"
I was a heavy drinker for about 20 years. I'm 50 now. Will my liver go back to normal if I have already damaged it?
This is a complicated question. To answer your question -- yes and no. There is some reversibility to the injury, however there is also some damage that may be permanent. I would recommend that you discuss this with your primary care doctor. In addition, if your primary doctor feels it is needed, you may be referred to a hepatologist -- a doctor who specializes in the liver. There are two forms of liver damage that can be done by alcohol. The first is inflammation that occurs in the liver because of the toxic effects of the alcohol. Known as alcoholic hepatitis or alcoholic steatohepatitis this may improve by stopping the injury stimulus. That is this inflammation may decrease is you stop drinking. However, if this injury has persisted for a long while, then in inflammation results in scar in the liver --- this is known as cirrhosis. This does not improve over time as the liver cells (hepatocytes) are dead. The biggest and most important thing you can do to stop injuring the liver. Stopping all alcohol is very important. Limiting other liver toxins like tylenol is also important. Talk to your doctor about this. A liver is a vital organ which requires a significant amount of care. Good luck!
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