Gallstones and Gallbladder Disease

Some people think of their gallbladder as being “expendable”. Not that anybody wants any of their organs to be removed, but since many people live a seemingly normal life after getting their gallbladder removed, many people don’t think their gallbladder plays an important role in their overall health. After all, how important can your gallbladder be if you can do just fine after it’s surgically removed? The gallbladder actually plays a very important role in your body. It is an essential part of the digestive system.

In the United States, about a million new cases of gallstone disease are diagnosed each year, and some 800,000 operations are performed to treat gallstones, making it the most common gastrointestinal disorder requiring hospitalization. Gallstones or gallbladder disease can quickly turn a great meal into a period of misery.

Gallstone disease is the most common disorder affecting the body’s biliary system, the network of organs and ducts that create, transport, store, and release bile. Bile is a thick fluid, made in the liver and stored in the gallbladder, which acts in the small intestine to digest fat. Bile contains cholesterol, water, proteins, bilirubin (a breakdown product from blood cells), bile salts (the chemicals necessary to digest fat), and small amounts of copper or other materials. If the chemical balance of bile contains too much of any of these components, particularly of cholesterol, crystals form and can harden into stones.

Bile is stored in the Gallbladder and is concentrated up to five times by the removal of water. Gallstones form when liquid stored in the gallbladder hardens into pieces of stone-like material. Bile contains water, cholesterol, bilirubin and other substances. Ideally these minerals remain in liquid form until they are passed out of the body. However, excessive amounts of these minerals in bile can cause them to crystallize.

These small crystals that form out of the saturated bile may begin to clump together. Any existing crystals makes it easier for other crystals to form. If they stay in the gallbladder too long, the crystals gradually grow larger until they become a gallstone so large that it cannot pass through the biliary ducts.

In terms of size, gallstones can be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a golf ball. A person can form one large stone in his or her gallbladder, or hundreds! About 10 percent of the population has gallstones, but the vast majority experiences no symptoms and need no treatment. However, in 1 percent to 2 percent of these people, gallstones can cause problems by lodging in bile ducts, stopping the flow of bile or digestive enzymes, and leading to severe abdominal pain, vomiting, inflammation, and even life-threatening infection.

Gallstone attack has some classic symptoms:

The most agonizing pain is experienced in the upper right part of the abdomen under the ribs. Usually it appears suddenly, sometimes an hour or two after eating a fatty meal. The pain may get worse quickly, and then last for several hours. Many times the pain may radiate to the back between the shoulder blades or under the right shoulder. Inhaling deeply, or moving, often makes the pain worse. The primary therapy for gallstones that are causing pain, inflammation, or infection is removal of the gallbladder.

A number of factors put people at higher risk of gallstones:

  • Gender: Women between the ages of 20 and 60 are 3 times more likely to develop gallstones than are men in the same age group. By age 60, 20 percent of American women have gallstones.
  • Age: The incidence of gallstone disease increases with age.
  • Genetics: Family history and ethnicity are critical risk factors in development of gallstones, though no gene responsible for gallstone formation has yet been discovered. African-Americans seem to have lower rates of gallstone disease than American Indians, whites, or Hispanics.
  • Obesity: Obesity is a significant risk factor, particularly for women. Obesity also slows down the emptying of the gallbladder.
  • Location of body fat: Belly fat, that spare tire around the middle, dramatically increases the chance of developing stones.
  • Diabetes: People with diabetes often have high levels of triglycerides in their blood, and these fatty acids tend to increase the risk of gallstones.

Even if you’re not at risk for gallstones, it is wise to maintain a healthy body weight, by among other things, sticking to a diet that is low in fat and cholesterol and high in fiber.

If you are in the Las Vegas area and suffering with gallstones or gallbladder disease, schedule a consultation with Dr. Shawn Tsuda.

Gallbladder Disease - Doctor with chalkboard on white background

What you Need to Know about Protein

You probably know you need to eat protein, but what is it and where exactly do you find it? The answer is – everywhere – if you’re talking about the body. Proteins make up about 42% of the dry weight of our bodies. The protein collagen—which holds our skin, tendons, muscles, and bones together—makes up about a quarter of the body’s total protein. Protein builds, maintains, and replaces the tissues in your body. Your muscles, your organs, and your immune system are made up mostly of protein. All of our cells and even blood are packed with protein molecules.

Proteins, along with fats and carbohydrates, are the macronutrients that form the basis of our diets. Once consumed, some people associate protein only with helping to build muscle, but keep in mind that’s not all it does for us. In our bodies, protein performs a range of duties, from building new cells to regulating metabolism to helping cells communicate. Proteins help shuttle oxygen throughout the body in the form of hemoglobin, as well as build muscle.

When you eat foods that contain protein, the digestive juices in your stomach and intestine go to work. They break down the protein in food into basic units, called amino acids. The amino acids then can be reused to make the proteins your body needs to maintain muscles, bones, blood, and body organs.

Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. Our DNA directs the body to join various combinations of amino acids into a variety of sequences and three-dimensional shapes for an arsenal of over 2 million different proteins, each serving a unique function. Our bodies can make some of these amino acids, but there are nine that are considered “essential amino acids” because we must consume these through our diet.

Many foods contain protein, but the best sources are:

  • Beef
  • Poultry
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • dairy products
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • legumes like black beans and lentils

While our bodies can store fats and carbohydrates to draw on when needed, we do not have a storage pool of amino acids. We need a fresh source each day in order to build the body proteins we need. If the body is missing a particular amino acid to form the protein it needs, it will pull that amino acid by breaking down existing muscle protein. If we consistently lack certain amino acids we will lose muscle weight, energy and, eventually, fundamental functions.

The amount of protein you need depends on your weight and health. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for protein for the healthy individual is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight or 3 to 4 grams per 10 pounds, and two to three servings of protein-rich food will meet the daily needs of most adults. Athlete’s protein intake recommendations may be higher.

The good news is that you don’t have to eat all the essential amino acids in every meal. As long as you have a variety of protein sources throughout the day, your body will grab what it needs from each meal.

You can look at a food label to find out how many protein grams are in a serving, but if you’re eating a balanced diet, you don’t need to keep track of it. It’s pretty easy to get enough protein.

*Dr. Shawn Tsuda is a General Surgeon specializing in robotic bariatric surgery. Schedule a consultation to learn more.
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Weight-loss Surgery Myths – Setting the Record Straight

If you are considering bariatric surgery, you’ve probably heard many of the popular myths. These run the gamut from horror stories to fairy tales. In reality, these procedures are neither as awful nor as fantastic as they’re made out to be. Here are some facts to help set the record straight about weight-loss surgery (WLS).

Myth: All bariatric surgery involves stomach stapling.

  • There are many different types of gastrointestinal procedures for weight loss, some of which reduce the functioning size of the stomach and others that bypass parts of the digestive tract, reducing absorption of calories and nutrients. Different types of surgeries offer different results, and some are more suitable for particular people than others.

Myth: People who get weight-loss surgery don’t have willpower.

  • Many bariatric surgery patients have struggled for years, pushing themselves to extremes to lose weight and keep it off. They understand that surgery is a final option when everything else has failed. The surgery, recovery and lifestyle changes that accompany WLS require both courage and determination on the part of the patient.

Myth:  Bariatric surgery is only for the morbidly obese.

  • Obesity is only one of the criteria that qualify patients for surgery. Overweight patients may also be candidates if they have one or more health problems that might be reduced or alleviated by weight loss such as diabetes, sleep apnea, hypertension, arthritis, and high cholesterol.

Myth: Bariatric surgery is extremely dangerous.

  • Any type of surgery has associated risks, such as complications or even death. However, a number of recent advances have helped to minimize risks. Surgeries are usually done laparoscopically with mini-incisions that result in faster healing, less pain, and less scarring.

Myth: You will finally be skinny after bariatric surgery.

  • Losing just 50% of excess weight and keeping it off is considered a success story. That’s still going to be overweight in the eyes of most people. Plus, your skin isn’t necessarily going to tone up and be free of drooping after weight loss. However, the health benefits in reducing weight-related problems like sleep apnea often occur even in patients who don’t lose all the weight they would like.

Myth: Weight loss from bariatric surgery is permanent.

  • Unfortunately, even this one is not true. In fact, some regain is likely. Part of this is simply the body adjusting and learning to store fat even on a very restricted diet. At other times, a patient’s failure to adhere to the post-surgery lifestyle recommendations plays a role.

Myth: You should only have WLS if you are done having kids.

  • It isn’t safe to get pregnant in the first year or two after bariatric surgery. You simply won’t be getting enough nutrients to support a growing fetus. After you are done losing weight (if you are taking all your supplements and monitoring your health carefully), getting pregnant should be okay. This is something to discuss with your bariatric surgeon.

Myth: After bariatric surgery, you won’t be able to eat anything that tastes good.

  • Patients who undergo gastric bypass may need to avoid very sweet foods because it can cause side effects like dizziness and nausea. Patients who have a duodenal switch typically need to keep fatty foods to a minimum. However, many patients can and do eat their favorite foods after they recover from surgery. They just eat very small portions.

Myth: You can never be far from a bathroom after WLS.

  • In the aftermath of surgery, you may find yourself having some “emergency” bathroom visits. However, symptoms like diarrhea and vomiting should subside over time as you get a better handle on how your altered digestive system responds to food.

Myth: Bariatric surgery is reversible.

  • Gastric banding is usually reversible. That’s because the stomach and intestines are not cut or stapled with this surgery. Gastric bypass may be reversible, but this is a very involved surgery. It’s more difficult to put everything back where it was, and there is a risk that the revision won’t restore normal function. Sleeve gastrectomy and duodenal switch entail actual removal of part of the stomach without reattaching it lower on the intestine. This type of surgery is not reversible.

Surgery for weight reduction is not a miracle procedure. Weight loss surgery is designed to assist the morbidly obese in developing a healthier lifestyle. A surgical weight loss operation is a useful tool for weight loss, but it is a surgical procedure that requires a substantial lifelong commitment. The surgery alone will not help someone lose weight and keep it off. The patient must change eating and exercise habits. Without changes to the daily pattern of eating and activity, the patient is likely to regain the weight over time.

 

Tips for Choosing the Right Surgeon for You

Whether you need a complicated, invasive surgery or a simple out-patient operation, choosing the right surgeon can seem overwhelming. Even what should be relatively straightforward procedures such as gallbladder removal or hernia repair can sometimes result in serious complications, so you always want to be in good surgical hands. Here are some tips on finding the surgeon and hospital that are best for your situation.

Once you have narrowed down your list of potential surgeons, schedule a consultation. If you have a fairly urgent need for surgery, you may have to cross surgeons off of your list purely because of the wait for a visit. Otherwise, plan to meet with at least two surgeons and discuss your potential surgery.

Things to ask:

  • Is surgery necessary? The best way to avoid surgical errors is to avoid surgery entirely, so ask about the effectiveness and safety of alternatives. Compare those with the risks of surgery and the chance that it will help you.
  • Is your board certification up-to-date? Look for a surgeon who has undergone the necessary training, even after being in clinical practice, to maintain board certification in his or her specialty.
  • What’s your experience? Ask how many operations the surgeon has performed in the past year and how that compares with his or her peers.
  • What are your success, failure, and complication rates? Not all will be able or willing to tell you, but the good ones should.
  • What’s the hospital’s infection rate?
  • Does the hospital follow best practices? The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services tracks how frequently hospitals give antibiotics on schedule, control blood sugar in heart-surgery patients, prepare skin properly before incisions and take other steps proven to help prevent surgical complications.Make the right choice.

You may be expected to schedule a surgery at the end of the consultation. If you are not confident that you have found your ideal surgeon, do not schedule the surgery. Either way, it’s fine to ask for a day to consider everything the doctor has said before making the surgery official.

If the surgeon you consulted with is not your ideal surgeon, schedule a consultation with a different surgeon. Even if you think the first surgeon is your best choice, a second opinion from another surgeon can be valuable. Most types of insurance will allow for two or three consultations. If you believe you have found your ideal surgeon you can schedule your surgery, confident in your decision.

If you’re looking for an experienced general surgeon in the Las Vegas area, Dr. Shawn Tsuda specializes in minimally invasive surgical techniques including the laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, laparoscopic adjustable gastric band, sleeve gastrectomy, foregut surgery, ventral and inguinal hernia repairs, endoscopy, and basic laparoscopy. Schedule a consultation to learn what he can do for you.

 

 

Obesity: The Disease that Keeps on Growing

A number of studies have shown that individuals who are obese are often stereotyped as “lazy” or “lacking in willpower.” However, obesity is no longer considered a cosmetic issue that is caused by overeating and a lack of self-control. The World Health Organization (W.H.O.), along with National and International medical and scientific societies, now recognize obesity as a chronic progressive disease resulting from multiple environmental and genetic factors.

In the United States, epidemiological data from a study that measured the actual body size of thousands of Americans, showed that 34 percent of adults more than 20 years old are affected by obesity and 68 percent are overweight (2007-2008 data). Obesity affected 10 percent of children between two and five years of age, 2 percent of those between 6 to 11 years old, and 18 percent of adolescents.

Throughout the last 3 decades, the prevalence of obesity has been increasing at an alarming rate. Since 1985, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has supported an ongoing study, conducted on a yearly basis by state health departments, to examine changes in obesity prevalence state-to-state, and has found the following:

  • In 1990, the obesity prevalence for most of the states was 10 percent or less.
  • By 1995, more than half the states had a prevalence of 15 percent.
  • By 2000, nearly half the states had a prevalence of 20 percent or higher.
  • Five years later (2005), all but three states had a prevalence greater than 20 percent and nearly a third had a prevalence of 25 percent or more.
  • By 2010, the data show that most of U.S. states had a prevalence of 25 percent and many had a prevalence of 30 percent or higher.

Obesity is considered a multifactorial disease with a strong genetic component. Acting upon a genetic background are a number of hormonal, metabolic, psychological, cultural and behavioral factors that promote fat accumulation and weight gain.

Many other conditions associated with obesity contribute to the progression of the AdobeStock_69574863 (2).jpgdisease. Obesity reduces mobility and the number of calories that would be burned in the performance of activity. Weight gain may also cause psychological or emotional distress which, in turn, produces hormonal changes that may cause further weight gain by stimulating appetite and by increasing fat uptake into fat storage depots.

Sleep duration is reduced by weight gain due to a number of conditions that impair sleep quality such as pain, sleep apnea and other breathing problems, a need to urinate more frequently, use of certain medications, and altered regulation of body temperature. Shortened sleep duration, in turn, produces certain hormones that both stimulate appetite and increase the uptake of fat into fat storage depots.

Weight gain also contributes to the development of other diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, osteoarthritis and depression, and these conditions are often treated with medications that contribute to even further weight gain. In all of these ways and more, obesity ’begets’ obesity, trapping the individual in a vicious weight gain cycle.

Multiple factors acting upon a genetic background cause weight gain and obesity. Conditions associated with weight gain and biological changes in the body that occur as a result of weight gain contribute to progression of the disease, often trapping the individual in a vicious weight gain cycle. Obesity is a complex disease influenced by several issues, including genetic, physiological, environmental, and behavioral.

If you live in the Las Vegas area and are concerned about your weight, schedule an appointment with Dr. Shawn Tsuda to learn more about how to improve your weight and health.

 

Fighting Type 2 Diabetes with Weight-loss Surgery

In a recent study, researchers were able to identify genetic markers that could predict the risk of type 2 diabetes (T2DM). Doctors hope that this will lead to new strategies for predicting and possibly preventing T2DM and other consequences of being overweight. These findings are particularly important, as an estimated 1.5 billion people throughout the world are overweight. Researchers hope their findings could lead to better ways at identifying those most at risk of developing diabetes and help them make changes in their lifestyles to ensure they do not go on to develop this condition.

Here are some things we know:

  • Obesity is a major independent risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes, and more than 90% of type 2 diabetics are overweight or obese.
  • Modest weight loss, as little as 5% of total body weight, can help to improve type 2 diabetes in patients who are overweight or obese.
  • Metabolic and bariatric surgery may result in resolution or improvement of type 2 diabetes independent of weight loss.

Current therapy for T2DM includes lifestyle intervention (weight-loss, appropriate diet, exercise) and anti-diabetes medication(s). Medical supervision and strict adherence to the prescribed diabetes treatment regimen may help to keep blood sugar levels from being excessively high although medications and lifestyle changes cause remission of the disease. In fact, T2DM often worsens with time, requiring even greater numbers of medication or a higher dosage to keep blood sugar under control. For this reason, T2DM has been considered a chronic and progressive disease.

Weight loss surgery may improve blood sugar control by altering levels of gut hormones, as well as by speeding up weight loss. It may also alter the balance of microbes in the digestive system in beneficial ways.

  • Studies comparing metabolic and bariatric surgery to nonsurgical treatment for obesity found surgery results in greater weight loss and higher type 2 diabetes remission rates.
  • Studies with more than six months follow up showed surgical patients lost an average of 57 more pounds than participants in nonsurgical weight loss programs, and were 22 times more likely to see their type 2 diabetes abate.
  • Head-to-head studies comparing bariatric surgery to medical therapy found bariatric surgery superior to medical treatment in producing type 2 diabetes remission, even before weight loss.
  • A Cleveland Clinic study showed within one year, diabetes remission rates with bariatric surgery were about 40% (42% gastric bypass, 37% gastric sleeve) compared to about 12% for patients treated with the best pharmacotherapy available; patients had BMI between 27 and 43.
  • Catholic University/New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center showed remission rates were about 85% for bariatric surgery (75% gastric bypass, 95% Overweight Woman is Overjoyedbiliopancreatic diversion) and zero for medical therapy in patients with BMI greater than 35, after two years.
  • In surgical groups, both weight loss and preoperative BMI were not predictors of diabetes control, suggesting such surgical procedures may be independent of weight loss.
  • 73% of gastric band patients with type 2 diabetes experience remission two years after surgery, a 5 times higher resolution rate than those receiving convention therapy.
  • Conventional therapy includes access to general physician, nurse and diabetes educator, and medical therapies including pharmaceutical agents, individual lifestyle modification programs, and physical activity.

The American Diabetes Association recommends bariatric surgery be considered for adults with type 2 diabetes who have a BMI greater than 35, in particular if diabetes or associated comorbidities are difficult to control with lifestyle and pharmacologic therapy. If you live in the Las Vegas area and are considering bariatric surgery, schedule an appointment with Dr. Shawn Tsuda. He and his expert team can help find the right treatment for you.

 

 

Instead of Making Yourself Over this Year Make Over your Resolutions

The new year is here, and if you are like many, many people you’ve made resolutions about how you’re going to lose weight, exercise regularly, and generally live a healthier lifestyle starting now. Of course, these are all noble goals; unfortunately the hordes of people who will be back to their old ways by the end of the month far outnumber those who keep true to their intentions.

Perhaps the top reason that well-meaning “resolution-ers” fail is that the goals they set for themselves are unrealistic and set up to fail from the beginning. This year, instead of making over yourself, here are some tips to makeover your resolutions. This year, resolve to be successful!

Old resolution: I am going to lose weight—somehow. Making list of New Year's resolutions
People often will just set a weight-loss goal, but they don’t have a good plan on how to get there. Without a detailed plan, you’re likely to go back to previous eating and exercise patterns.
Makeover: Set a goal that is specific, measurable, realistic, and trackable. Walk for 15 minutes three times a week or add a serving each of fruits and vegetables. Focus on changes that you can make a part of your lifestyle seamlessly, so you’ll be able to sustain them for the long term.

Old resolution: That’s it, no more chocolate—ever!
Banning your favorite treat—whether it’s chocolate, soda, lattes, or french fries– is bound to backfire. Dieters often eat it, binge on it, feel bad, and then throw in the towel and revert back to their old eating patterns.
Makeover: Make peace with your trigger foods. Don’t have them at home staring you in the face, but allow yourself to have them once or twice a week.

Old resolution: Those holiday parties went straight to my hips. I’m going to have to starve
myself to undo the damage.
Too often when somebody says diet, they’re thinking deprivation. If your weight loss plan feels like a drag, you’re going to feel punished and abandon it.
Makeover: Rejoice in the lifelong health benefits you’ll be creating instead of getting down about dieting. Losing weight becomes easy when you invest your mental energy in making positive, healthy changes for yourself.

Drastic resolutions are simply not realistic. You’ll just get discouraged and give up. Instead, make some basic alterations to your lifestyle. These changes don’t all have to happen at once, but changes in what you eat, when you eat it, and how much you move your body will ultimately cause you to lose the weight. People who aren’t willing to change their lifestyle will never be successful with weight loss.

If you live in the Las Vegas area and are ready to change your lifestyle and do what it takes to finally be successful with weight loss, schedule an appointment with Dr, Shawn Tsuda. He and his expert team can help find the right treatment for you.