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What is the treatment for gallstones

Thomas Hart, M.D.
Board Certified in General Surgery

"Removing the gallbladder is the preferred treatment for the majority of people who have gallstones that cause symptoms. In fact, gallbladder surgery is one of the most common surgeries performed in the United States," says Thomas Hart, M.D., who is a surgeon with Baptist Surgical Associates (La Grange).

The surgery can be performed in two ways:

  • Laparoscopic surgery. Most often gallbladder surgery is performed using a laparoscope, a pencil-thin tube with its own lighting system and miniature video camera. Only small incisions are required. You’ll likely have less postoperative pain, less scarring and an earlier return to your normal activity – often within just a few days.
  • Open surgery. Occasionally an option is open surgery, in which the gallbladder is removed through an abdominal incision. Your doctor may regard this surgery as the best option in severe cases.

Although you can’t entirely prevent gallstones from forming, Dr. Hart explains that you may be able to lower your risk by following these suggestions:

  • Maintain a healthy body weight.
  • Avoid crash diets or a very low intake of calories – less than 800 calories a day.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Choose a low-fat, high-fiber diet that emphasizes fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Reduce the amount of animal fat, butter, margarine, mayonnaise and fried foods you eat.

"Gallstones affect as many as one in 12 Americans. You’re at greater risk of developing gallstones if you’re older, female or overweight," Dr. Hart adds.