SLEEPY HOLLOW, N.Y. -- For most people, the health of their gallbladder isn't a number one priority. However, this small organ has an important job of digesting fats in the body and plays a larger role in overall wellness than many people think.
The gallbladder is a small pouch that sits just under the liver, and stores bile produced by the liver. Gallstones, a small, hard mass that forms abnormally in the gallbladder, can trigger a variety of symptoms, such as abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, and vomiting. "When gallstones become frequent, recurrent and especially uncomfortable, the typical treatment is surgery to remove the gallbladder," said Dr. Har Chi Lau, of Hudson Valley Surgical Group, Minimally Invasive Center in Sleepy Hollow. "Gallbladder surgery is a simple surgery but is a complex part of the anatomy."
When gallbladder surgery is required, Hudson Valley Surgical Group surgeons perform a laparoscopic cholecystectomy, which is a procedure which uses video instruments to allow surgeons to view the gallbladder and surrounding tissue. "The gallbladder is removed through one of the smaller incisions, which results in less scarring and less post-operative pain for the patient," said Lau. "Many people with gallstones have no symptoms their entire lives. But once the symptoms kick in, surgery should be considered. A consult with a surgeon will help to determine if surgery is needed and the timing of such."
While some cases of gallstones have been linked to family history, leading a healthier lifestyle may help avoid going under the knife. "There are many health problems that are out of our control, but being healthier with your diet and exercising more is certainly up to us," said Lau. "For gallbladder specifically, limiting cholesterol, fat and red meats can be helpful as well. If you're overweight, losing weight gradually can also play a factor."
For those looking to lower their chance of surgery, eating healthier is the step in the right direction. "Try to make your diet consist of foods that are low in fat and cholesterol and high in fiber," said Lau. "Eating fresh fruit and vegetables, grains, lean meat and fish will help make your gallbladder and your body a little happier."
To learn more about gallbladder surgery or other surgical procedures, visit HVSG's website.