Gallstones are hardened deposits of digestive fluid that can collect in the gallbladder. The gallbladder is a small organ in the abdomen that holds bile before it is released into the small intestine as part of the digestive process. When they form, gallstones can range from as small as a grain of sand to as large as a golf ball. People with gallstones may have only one, or they may have many.
Why Are They a Problem?
Sometimes gallstones are present but cause no symptoms or issues. Other times, the stones can block or lodge into a duct preventing the normal flow of bile. This can result in pain, as well as nausea or vomiting, inflammation, and infection.
How Common Are They?
About 10% of the population may have gallstones, but only a fraction of those may experience symptoms or require surgery.
What Are the Risk Factors for Gallstones?
- Being female
- Age 40 or older
- Being of Native American or Mexican descent
- Overweight or obese
- Being sedentary
- Eating a high fat diet
- Eating a low fiber diet
- Family history of gallstones
- Rapid weight loss
- Having liver disease
- Taking certain medications
Unfortunately, many of Dr. Shillingford’s patients may find themselves at risk for gallstones based on their age, overweight or obese status, rapid weight loss (which is often experienced after gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, or lap band surgery), and being sedentary. If you are experiencing symptoms or think you have gallstones, talk to your doctor immediately. Fortunately for Dr. Shillingford’s weight loss surgery patients, he is also highly skilled at performing gallbladder surgery, or cholecystectomy. Call Dr. Shillingford’s office at (561) 483-8840 to inquire about insurance plans accepted for gallbladder surgery.