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How can I combat post-gallbladder-removal belly fat and weight gain during menopause?

By Beth_Browning May 15, 2009 - 10:55pm
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Hello, in October 2008 I was well into menopause but had no real issues with belly fat or overall weight gain. Then I had my gallbladder removed due to painful attacks of my common bile duct, as well as gallstones. I am appalled at the weight I have gained since the surgical procedure. In fact it is so upsetting (none of my clothes fit) that I feel at times clinically depressed. I've never had to fight weight gain before. Now I have an "unsupportive spine" as well, and must take occasional bouts of oral steroids to control the inflammation. I also have had two spinal epidural steroid injections, and wonder if these injections could cause me to gain weight. Any comments would be most welcome. Thank you!

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EmpowHER Guest

I am so glad to find all your comments. I thought I was losing my marbles. I had been through menopause and didn't suffer any weight gain from that, but later had my gall bladder removed and that's a whole different story. It has been about 6 years and I have gained about 45 pounds. I have tried dieting and I have given up at times, and it seems to make no difference either way. What makes me mad is I wasn't even having gall bladder pain (only one stone), but I had been vomiting for about a year and a half and the only thing they could figure out was, it must be the gall bladder. Wrong. After surgery, I continued to have the same problem. Finally figured out the vomiting was caused by a medication I was taking. I want my gall bladder back, stone and all. I've gained most of this weight around the middle, and get extremely and painfully bloated in the upper part of my abdomen whenever I eat ANYTHING. Nothing fits any more, and I rarely leave the house. It would have been nice if the doctor had warned me about this, but I got no warning whatsoever. I will try some of the advice I've found here; thank you. Let this serve as a warning for people who haven't had the surgery yet...don't do it unless your life is endangered. You'll be sorry.

May 13, 2016 - 3:05pm
Susan Cody HERWriter Guide (reply to Anonymous)

Hi Anon!

Thanks for sharing your story.

I also had that upper abdominal swelling - from my breasts down.

I had what is called a hydrogen breath test and came up positive for deeply inbedded bacteria in my small intestines. I went on a raw food diet and it helped but the antibiotics did the trick. I am now about 75% raw and eat very small portions. All that swelling has stopped now. I find small portions with low fat really help. I'm pain-free now too - a miracle.


May 16, 2016 - 1:05pm
EmpowHER Guest

I have been told that my gall bladder is only working about 10%. Except for one side wrenching episode, I am not experiencing too much discomfort as long as I watch what I eat. the Dr said it was up to me as far as when to have it out. I am having a colonoscopy as I have chronic constipation and colon cancer in my family. After reading all of the above comments I am really worried about the weight gain. I think I destroyed my gall bladder while on a Dr approved weight loss program. No one ever told me fast weight loss cold damage my gall bladder. thought anyone??

March 28, 2016 - 11:59am
EmpowHER Guest

Not only have I "found" an extra 40 lbs. since my 2010 gall bladder removal, I can't seem to get rid of it in a timely fashion no matter how hard I try. An 800-900 calorie a day diet has provided me a 10 lb. weight loss in the space of 4 months. As far as the gall bladder surgery itself, the immediate relief from pain I felt was so worth it. The bile leak and subsequent 7 day hospitalization were the worst pain I have ever experienced (and I birthed 5 babies with no pain killers). I thought I was the only one who had issues with this weight gain thing. It came upon so suddenly and stubbornly that I would have thought I was making it my goal. Funny, the doctor didn't mention this as a side effect.....or maybe he didn't (doesn't know). The fact that there are so many of us on here expressing the same problem (and think of the tens of thousands that aren't) must be some indication that this is a real problem.

March 28, 2016 - 10:58am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

You can't lose weight if you restrict your calories too much because your metabolism thinks you are starving and slows down.

April 11, 2016 - 12:11am
EmpowHER Guest

Thank you to everyone who has shared here. I thought I had gotten incredibly lazy/gluttonous after my gall bladder removal. In the 6 years since its removal, I've gained 40 pounds although I watch my diet and exercise religiously. I thought I was losing my mind. Since January I have been working extremely hard at losing the weight. I have lost.....(drum roll)....10 pounds. Yes, I know it's better than nothing but I am discouraged because I have been working so hard. For some reason I began to wonder about the "coincidence" of the weight gain and the removal of my gall bladder and found this site. The supplements and diet advice will be taken to heart and I will try it. You all have helped so much.

March 28, 2016 - 10:30am
Dawn Read

Wow just wow. I've been suffering for SIXTEEN YEARS and felt so alone. Only one doctor listened to me and he moved so now I'm on my own again. Daily diarrhea everything upsets my stomach. And the weight gain FIFTY POUNDS over the years. Then to make matters worse I had a hysterectomy five years ago then the weight won't go. Sick of doctors saying all my symptoms are my fault. I'm lazy. I'm eatting too much. I'm eatting too much junk. I'm not trying. Far from it. I'm active at work and at home. I went gluten free in a attempt to improve things which has helped with the stomach pains but not much else. Went to a gastro doc this last week. Same old story all of my symptoms are "normal" and I'm complaining about nothing. He wants to still do a colonoscopy why? I'm normal so why? Oh he wants to charge my insurance thats why. Nope. I'm not going back to him. Nope! I'm trying something I read on this site. Apple vinegar with fiber and digestive enzymes. Crossing fingers. I'd like to THANK everyone here. I now have hope.

March 26, 2016 - 11:16am
EmpowHER Guest

Oh, I thought I was CRAZY. It's been a month since my gallbladder removal surgery and the gut I have is insane. I work out 5x/week and on a low carb, low sugar diet, drink a ton of water a day and nothing. I am 50 years old and every time I bring it up with the doctor they attribute it to age and/or menopause. I have a constant gurgling in my gut after I eat and my stomach just balloons. I have a follow up appointment with my surgeon next week and I will press him for additional alternatives than simply "just live with it." I remember pre-surgery the dr. briefing said "you may gain weight". He said most people who gain weight eat worse because they weren't used to eating fatty foods before and now they can. Well, I wasn't eating any differently. I remember checking out of the hospital and received 10 pages of paperwork advising me of the negative affects of the pain meds they gave me but NOTHING regarding diet and weight gain, which has longer affect on me.

March 11, 2016 - 2:52pm
EmpowHER Guest

This is the most helpful site ever- not only to know we are not alone and not crazy(!) but to relate possible causes and solutions. At age 50 my gallbladder was removed- 6 years later this huge tummy will not shrink no matter that I exercise 5 times a week and eat extremely healthy. 20 extra pounds around my middle will not go away. I’m reminded of my grandfather who had a huge gut relative to his small frame- yep, his gallbladder was removed in his 50’s too. So I have read through this entire thread and researched every hint, trick, link, and tip and this is what I have discovered and am trying for myself… good luck with this truly horrid byproduct of cholecystectomy none of us were warned of- a gut with greatly increased girth from greatly diminished digestive capability.

Ox bile and beet root
Low carb low sugar diet
Antibacterial agents like berberine, turmeric, garlic & ginger
Apple cider vinegar, blueberries
Vitamin D
The 3 gut beneficial probiotics associated with weight LOSS recently are Lactobacillus’s 3: gassiri, plantarum, and rhamnosus
(The 4 recently associated with weight GAIN- Lactobacillus’s 4: acidophilus, fermentum, ingluviei, and reuters)
Read your yogurt and probiotic supplement ingredients and research…

February 10, 2016 - 10:51am
EmpowHER Guest

I haven't posted here in a very long time. An update in my inbox caught my eye. I have not experienced this myself but have witnessed this very thing happen to a close friend over a decade ago. Since my last post here, my friend is still struggling with this problem. He's checked himself into Duke Medical Center for in-patient observation (Duke weight loss clinic, I think?). He gained weight while he was in their strict program and was discharged with something like "we don't understand what is going on with you, one day medical science might catch up but we're not there yet". A year or so later he checked himself into the Mayo Clinic and his experience there was disastrous. As with so many other doctors, the one in Mayo Clinic was apparently only able to blame the patient. It seems most doctors will tell you that you are somehow at fault, diet and exercise and all that. Don't believe them, they are only covering for their own lack of understanding. The better doctors will believe you, and while it's very unlikely, some of them might actually observe you and physically probe you. In my friend's case those that did were able to confirm that he was actually quite firm all over...he just had a very bloated distended belly.
I know this is not positive but here's advice I would give to any of you suffering from this unexplained, undiagnosed condition following your gall bladder surgery:
1. Do not starve yourself, that will only make it worse.
2. Be very careful with stomach exercises, if anything you do causes you to bloat don't do it.
3. Dismiss any doctor that blames you. Have a pre-scripted (written if it helps) short description of your condition, what you've done, what you're doing. Until medical science does catch up your best doctor will be one who has enough integrity to admit they don't know what is going on with your body.
4. Keep a detailed journal which includes, foods consumed, activities, sleep, medications, progress, lack of progress, and anything else you think might help you find patterns (my friend didn't do this).
I can't think of anything else to share right now and I don't know if this post will help anyone but I wanted to let you know you are not crazy and you are not alone.

February 10, 2016 - 7:04am
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