Gallstones After Weight Loss Surgery

This blog is written by Kimberly H, a bariatric patient who discusses being a mother, eating well, working out, and trying to lose weight after weight loss surgery. Aside from sharing her experience with WLS, she discusses motivation, self-love, and mental health.

Weight loss surgery takes a toll on your body. Although there are so many positive things that come after surgery, there are a number of negatives that can happen as well. It is important that you are aware of these things before you make a decision about bariatric surgery. 

One of the issues that can come after surgery is with your gallbladder. Gallstones are a very common problem amongst obese people so a lot of times bariatric patients have already gotten their gallbladder removed prior to bariatric surgery. It usually happens when cholesterol levels are high or when fatty deposits are higher than normal levels. Bile is a substance produced in your liver and is responsible for helping fats digest. However, when you have higher cholesterol levels it makes it harder to do so and gallstones can form due to this.  

So, how does this affect weight loss surgery patients? Well, an unfortunate side effect of rapid weight loss is the formation of gallstones. It can sometimes be difficult to detect if it is gallstones because small stones usually do not have symptoms. Once they get too large enough to block the outlet from the gallbladder, a gallstone attack happens. Gallstone attacks are extremely painful and usually starts in the abdomen. Gallstone attacks can last for 30 minutes or several hours depending on the severity. The pain usually travels into the shoulders and can also cause nausea. 

Some bariatric surgeons put patients on medication after surgery to help prevent gallstones from happening. Since it is relatively common, surgeons like to be proactive about it. Treatment for gallstones usually involves the removal of the gallbladder. In the past, some surgeons even removed the gallbladder during weight loss surgery because they knew gallstones would be a side effect after surgery. 

As a weight loss surgery patient, take the time to research the good and the bad about the procedure. Remember that your anatomy is different after surgery and there are side effects that can happen due to that. The good news is gallbladder surgery is a relatively easy procedure and there are little risks. However, it is still a surgery and it is important that you are aware that there is a possibility you might have to have it after weight loss surgery. If you are experiencing any side effects of gallstones, talk to your surgeon immediately so you can get it taken care of and focus on getting yourself healthy.  

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