Gallstone Attack from Rapid Weight Loss? Had to go to ER

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created February 25, 2013 at 10:21 PM

Just had a nasty gallstone attack last night, ended up in the ER and stayed overnight. Kept getting pressured by the surgeons to remove the gallbladder, ended up refusing.

It seems rapid weight loss precipitates gallstone attacks, why would that be? I've lost about 100lbs in the last 3yrs with spurts of weight loss here and there (low carb Paleo), I'm 25yrs old. The surgeons as well as what I've been researching have been saying that patients who have lost alot of weight seem to have a shift in increased cholesterol secretion via bile, and too much cholesterol may cause crystals/gallstones to form in the gallbladder.

Anyone have similar experiences or thoughts? Thanks.



on February 25, 2013
at 10:21 PM

my ER doc did an ultrasound and found at least 5 stones!

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3 Answers



on February 25, 2013
at 11:53 PM

Hey DH - yeah, sorry, that's exactly what happens... Rapid weight loss (from any kind of diet) will cause your body to dump fat/cholesterol into your blood stream. If it's too much for your body, it can cause stones to form (stones are usually made of cholesterol). The more bouts of weight loss you have in your past, the more stones you may have. At some point, the gb gets full and starts to give you pain.

My quick story: 3 major weight losses in my life (I'm 38, female). 40+ lb each time. (Once in high school, once after pregnancy, once on paleo). My first attack was in the middle of the night and I thought I was dying! (Seriously - worst pain ever - and I've born 4 children via natural childbirth). Ultrasound showed gb "full of stones" (so said the doc - upon questioning he admitted it was about 75% full).

I didn't want to act immediately. So I took OX BILE to help digest fats and take some of the load off my gb. I had attacks off and on for about 18 months (about 1 every 3 months). Each time was after I had lost a little weight (3-5 lb). Finally, toward the end I had 3 weeks where I had an attack every day. That was it for me. I really thought I was going to die. I had it out.

Best. Thing. Ever. I was so scared I wouldn't be able to eat paleo again, or I'd have persistent diarrhea (I am sure you have read all this from other stories online). After it was out, I realized that it had been giving me trouble for 20+ years, ever since that first weight loss. No more "stitches" in my side when I run. No more sleeping only on my left side bc my right side is uncomfortable. I was stunned. NO problems eating paleo. I'm pretty high fat - low carb, and my digestion is the best it has ever been.

My surgeon said that if you truly have a bad gb, the outcome will be good, bc basically your gb has been nonfunctional for years by that point. He said too many people have the gb out when there is really something else going on (bad diagnosis), and those are usually the people who have ongoing problems after.

The only negative thing I can say is that the surgery was not a simple in/out, back to work the next day thing for me. Recovery took me about 3 weeks, 1 full week of which I spent on painkillers. Maybe because I waited so long to have it out, and my whole system was inflamed.

Since having it out, I have read that MAGNESIUM and VIT C taken while losing weight can help prevent stone formation. Too late to help me, but you may want to track that idea down! Keep the fat intake high, as that keeps the bile flowing and will hopefully move along any stones that form while they are still small.



on February 25, 2013
at 11:59 PM

I had mine removed 6 yrs ago. I had an attack that felt like I was being stabbed in the heart. I was a yo-yo dieter and I had fatty liver. I've had no serious issues since having it removed.

The only thing that no one has really touched on is that gallstones & attacks are caused by a diet high in saturated fat (be it from junk food or high-fat protein - esp. bacon/pork). Your gallbladder needs good fats (hi-quality oils & avocados) with fruits/veggies & lean protein if you want to avoid getting more GB attacks.


on March 24, 2013
at 11:21 PM

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