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A5-8) Gallstones


This article is from the Big Folks Health FAQ, by sharon@ecs.ox.ac.uk (Sharon Curtis) with numerous contributions by others.

A5-8) Gallstones

Gallstones are formed from bile crystallizing in the gall bladder.
These are very common; many people have them without realising it,
and without them causing any problems.

Problems can be caused when stones get stuck in the bile duct,
possibly blocking the liver, and this causes pain, in the form
of gall bladder attacks.

Risk factors that can make one more suspectible to gall bladder
attacks are: femininity, obesity, stress and crash dieting.
The function of the gall bladder is to digest fats, and on a diet
very low in calories there is not much fat to digest, and so the
gall bladder is not used much, and so the bile can more easily
crystallize, forming gallstones. A quote from [CS]:
"During rapid loss of weight in obese persons, biliary cholesterol
saturation increases consistently and in about 50% of patients leads
to formation of cholesterol crystals or gallstones..."

The standard procedure when someone is experiencing repeated
gall bladder attacks is the removal of the gall bladder. This can
either be done by full abdominal surgery, or by laser surgery
(the technical term is laparoscopic cholecystectomy).
The laser surgery standardly involves a general anasthetic, and
a small number of incisions. The incisions are small so there are
no stitches or staples, just butterfly sutures.

Some doctors are reluctant to recommend laser surgery for large folks,
although some big folks have had the surgery without problems.

From anecdotes on the newsgroup, most big folks were enthusiastic about
the laser surgery and much better after it, some recovering very quickly,
others taking a little longer. Some had standard abdominal surgery and
were happy with that option. One was unhappy with the laser surgery,
and one was still having problems after the surgery.


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