The Effects of Obesity on the Gallbladder
Obesity can directly affect gallbladder function, often forcing patients to have the diseased gallbladder surgically removed, known as a cholecystectomy. Excess weight and obesity is a risk factor for gallbladder disease causing the following:
The formation of gallstones and subsequent gallbladder surgery is more common in women than in men, but gallbladder disease is a serious consideration for both. Gallstones can form for many reason, but a key contributor is obesity, which increases the amount of cholesterol in the bile, creating hard stones, and metabolic disease, also caused by obesity. Complete blockage of the bile duct by a gallstone can cause inflammation or rupture of the gallbladder, liver problems and even pancreatitis – all of which are serious conditions.
Rapid Weight Loss
The rapid weight loss that many will experience after a bariatric procedure or fad dieting, while not directly caused by obesity, would not have occurred if not for the excess weight. This rapid weight loss, if combined with poor dietary choices, may promote the formation of gallstones.
Unfortunately, once gallbladder disease takes hold, it is rarely reversible, requiring the removal of the gallbladder.
The gallbladder is sometimes removed, especially in women, when we perform bariatric surgery. Oftentimes, when the primary weight loss procedure is being performed, we can visualize the gallbladder and see that there is a significant swelling indicating an infection or a blockage of the bile duct by gallstones, even if there are no outward symptoms. The surgery is most often performed in in a minimally invasive manner and represents a relatively safe and straightforward surgical procedure.
Maintaining a normal body weight, staying hydrated and exercising regularly can all contribute to a healthy gallbladder. Of course, some people will form gallstones regardless of their health while others will be predisposed to their development due to heredity.