The most common treatment technique for someone dealing with moderate to severe gallstones is to have the entire gallbladder removed with the help of a cholecystectomy procedure. But what is life like without a gallbladder, and what changes or side effects can you expect once it’s removed? We take a closer look at some of the side effects and lifestyle changes you can expect following gallbladder removal surgery.
The Effects Of Life Without A Gallbladder
Your gallbladder acts as a storage tank for bile that is produced in the liver, so once it’s removed, bile will flow directly from the liver into your small intestine. Your body can function fine without the gallbladder, but you may notice a few changes as you move forward without the storage organ. Here’s a look at some side effects, and how you can make life more comfortable in the wake of gallbladder removal surgery.
- Less “On-Demand” Bile – Because bile was stored in the gallbladder and released as needed when food needed to be broken down during the digestive process, you’ll no longer have bile on stand-by to assist with the digestive process. Instead, it will be produced on an as-needed basis, meaning you might not have as much bile as quickly as you did in the past. Because of this, larger meals can sometimes be harder to digest after gallbladder removal surgery, and they can leave you feeling full or bloated for an extended period. Many people find that more small meals throughout the day are easier to digest than a few larger meals, so consider making tweaks to your eating habits if large meals are causing discomfort.
- Difficulty Digesting Fats – Bile helps to break down fats during the digestion process, and because you won’t have as much bile readily available, sometimes fatty foods can cause digestive symptoms if they can’t be broken down as easily after gallbladder surgery. Limiting your fatty food intake is important at all times, but it can be especially helpful if you no longer have a gallbladder.
- Add Fiber To Your Diet – Because bile will flow consistently from your liver to your small intestine, albeit in small quantities, it’s not uncommon for stools to become a little less solid. You can help to add bulk to your stool and ensure they pass more comfortably by adding more fiber to your diet. Fiber can be found in foods like whole-grain breads, cereals, nuts, beans, fruits and leafy green vegetables.
- Consider Journaling – Finally, consider starting a food journal for the first few weeks after gallbladder removal surgery. This way it’s easy to see which foods your body handles well and which ones cause discomfort or other digestive symptoms. You can discontinue the journal once you learn more about your body post-surgery, but many people find it helpful to have a quick reference guide as they learn how their body is adjusting to life without a gallbladder.
And if you are experiencing additional symptoms or are struggling with any aspect of your life following gallbladder removal surgery, or you’re wondering if your digestive problems are being caused by a gallbladder issue, reach out to Dr. Bhatti and the team at Bhatti GI Consultants today for more information or to set up an appointment.