Weight Loss after Gallbladder Surgery

If you have a tendency to develop painful gallstones, the remedy is usually removal of the gallbladder. This procedure is called a cholecystectomy. The gallbladder is the part of your digestive system that stores bile, which is produced in the liver. Bile helps with the digestion of fatty foods. Removing the gallbladder doesn’t stop the liver from making the bile necessary to digest fats. Instead of being stored in the gallbladder, the bile will continuously drip into your digestive system. Your digestive system will continue to function without a gallbladder. The surgery may affect your weight in the short term, but certain lifestyle changes may help you lose or maintain weight in the long term.3D illustration of male Gallbladder.

Fast facts on weight loss after gallbladder removal:

  • A person can live without their gallbladder.
  • When gallstones become a problem, surgery is usually required to remove the gallbladder.
  • It is not uncommon for people to lose a little weight after having a cholecystectomy.
  • There are several strategies, including exercise and diet that can be used to make this short-term weight loss a more permanent change.

There seems to be some connection between diet and gallstones. For example, obesity and rapid weight loss are risk factors for developing gallstones. There’s also an increased risk for gallstones if you have a diet high in refined carbohydrates and calories, but low in fiber.

After having your gallbladder removed, it’s quite possible that you’ll experience some weight loss. This may be because of:

  • Eliminating fatty foods: After surgery, you may have some trouble digesting fatty foods until your body adjusts. For that reason, your surgeon may instruct you to avoid high-fat and fried foods until your body is better able to handle them.
  • Eating a bland diet: During recovery, you may also find that spicy foods and foods that cause gas can lead to gastrointestinal upset. This can make you shy away from some of your favorite dishes.
  • Selecting smaller portions: For a few weeks after surgery, you may not be able to eat large amounts of food at one sitting. You’ll probably be advised to eat more frequent, but smaller meals.

During this time, you might be taking in fewer calories than you were before the surgery. If so, you’re likely to lose weight, at least temporarily. If you want to continue the trend, remember that short-term and quick weight-loss plans are not healthy and may make matters worse in the long run. Instead, strive to make weight loss part of an overall healthier way of living. That means making good dietary choices and engaging in regular exercise. It doesn’t mean starving or completely depriving yourself of the foods you love.

Living an active lifestyle is essential for weight loss after gallbladder removal. However, it is important to speak with your doctor about when it is appropriate to return to or begin an exercise routine after surgery. Someone with a significant amount of weight to lose should speak with their doctor for advice and support.

Despite having your gallbladder removed, it’s still possible to lose weight. If you have a lot of weight to lose, schedule a consultation with VIP SURG to learn how you can do it safely.
 

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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