The Truth About Gaining Weight After Gallbladder Surgery

March 8, 2018

Gallbladder removal surgery is one of the most common general surgeries performed in the United States. And while the gallbladder is not a necessary organ, gallbladder disease can be uncomfortable, painful and even dangerous. That is why patients with confirmed gallbladder problems – usually found through a simple ultrasound – are encouraged to undergo gallbladder surgery as soon as possible to avoid emergency situations and the associated complications. Of course, every patient is concerned about the risks of surgery, but there has also been a good amount of information disseminated to the public that simply does not jive with reality.

One of these is the idea is that somehow you will inevitably gain weight after your gallbladder surgery. Nope.

There is no definitive data to suggest that all patients that undergo gallbladder surgery will gain weight after their procedure. And there is no real medical or scientific basis to support this. However, if you have done research online, you’ll likely find many articles and forums dedicated to those who have gained weight after gallbladder surgery. To understand why this weight gain may occur, we need to explore one of the most basic signs and symptoms of gallbladder disease – extreme reactions to certain foods.

Gallbladder disease often goes unnoticed for months or even years as patients may only feel minor discomfort or sporadic issues for quite a while. Over time, consciously or subconsciously, patients realize that certain foods do not sit well with them – typically those high in fat. As a result, over the progression of gallbladder disease, patients tend to avoid foods and drinks that cause them the discomfort, pain, nausea or vomiting. By eliminating these foods, patients are actually improving their diet and eliminating a decent number of calories.

At some point down the road, however, their gallbladder disease will be diagnosed. This could be an incidental finding or as result of a severe gallbladder attack that sends them to their primary care physician or a specialist. At this point, the gallbladder is removed in a very simple, minimally invasive procedure that lasts about 30 to 45 minutes. Unlike many other abdominal surgeries, there are very few, if any dietary restrictions after gallbladder surgery and patients are typically able to eat as they wish with minimal discomfort. Immediately after surgery, eating the high-fat foods that once caused gallbladder attacks typically only cause minor G.I. issues. As the liver adapts to the missing gallbladder, even these minor symptoms usually go away.

So, Why The Weight Gain?

Now that patients have the full spectrum of foods and drinks available to them without the self-limiting concern of a gallbladder attack, there is a tendency to eat some or all of the foods that they had not been able to prior to surgery. Of course, adding these higher fat, less healthy items naturally creates a situation where weight gain is likely.

Just as poor dietary choices may have caused the gallbladder issue in the first place, the same choices may create an environment for weight gain in the future as well. We encourage our patients to use their surgery as a starting point for a healthier lifestyle including better diet and exercise. Following a healthy, nutritious diet and exercising regularly will not only stave off weight gain, but create the potential for long-term weight loss as well.

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Advanced Surgical Associates is one of the first exclusively surgical groups practicing in Union County New Jersey. And that is just the first of many firsts for ASA. For over 40 years, we have pioneered breakthrough surgical patient care in North Jersey in both general and weight loss surgery. ASA also offers gastric bypass, gastric sleeve and gastric banding to those suffering from obesity in New Jersey.
© 2018, Advanced Surgical Associates, Bariatric & General Surgery, Springfield, New Jersey