Gallbladder Removal After Care - Things You Need To Remember - Gallstone Clinic (2023)

Gallbladder Removal After Care - Things You Need To Remember - Gallstone Clinic (1)

Although doctors can perform many different types of surgeries on the upper digestive system, the most commonly performed surgery for cholecystectomy is one in which they remove the gallbladder and other bile ducts. Doctors can perform this procedure for several reasons, such as inflammation of the gallbladder (cholecystitis), chronic pancreatitis, biliary calculus, and functional gallstones. In most cases, gall bladder removal PROCEDURE IS performed laparoscopically by minimally invasive surgical methods with minimal post-operative pain and discomfort. To feel better quickly and improve your chance of a speedy recovery, make sure you follow these tips about gallbladder removal aftercare:

Table of Contents

Gallbladder Removal After Care - Things You Need To Remember - Gallstone Clinic (3)

12 Gallbladder Surgery After Care You Must Do

Stay Hydrated

If your body has accumulated several toxins during the surgery, you must drink plenty of fluids that can help flush out the wastes and other toxins from your body. Begin drinking at least 64 oz of plain water every day will mainly ensure proper absorption of nutrients, essential for your healing (1). During surgery, that will also help flush out any impurities released from your gallbladder. It will also help reduce inflammation, promoting healing and decreasing pain. You should drink at least two to three liters of water per day for one week following the operation.

(Video) An expert's guide to gallstone surgery

If your body has a considerable number of toxins after surgery, you must drink plenty of fluids that can help flush out the wastes and other toxins from your body. If you are allowed to eat solid foods, it is recommended that you eat high-water-content fruits and vegetables, such as watermelon or grapefruit. You can also choose other healthy foods that contain a lot of water, like melon and cucumber.

Remain Active But Take It Slow

In most cases, patients are encouraged to gradually return to their normal activity levels as they feel comfortable. Ideally, you should check with your doctors before resuming physical activity following this surgery. You should avoid strenuous workouts until the surgeon has evaluated you after surgery and received satisfactory medical clearance for physical activity.

It is advisable to walk around for a few minutes every hour while recovering from this procedure to help minimize swelling and stiffness and prevent blood clots from forming in your legs. For instance, studies show that even if you only walk for three days, it will boost recovery from this surgical procedure. If you find it challenging to balance or breathe, using a cane may help improve the mobility of the joint, and it can also reduce the risk of falls when balancing on one leg. Other common post-surgery complications include pneumonia and wound infection, so avoid these risks by walking as much as possible.

Avoid Lifting Heavy Weights

You can only lift items weights at most ten pounds if you have a hernia in your abdominal wall or other complications following surgery. You should only lift under 5 pounds if you are experiencing abdominal pain after surgery or if you experience nausea and vomiting, which may occur due to stomach irritation due to gas trapped in your intestine. If you have any pressing concerns, you can contact your surgeon or go to the emergency room if you are experiencing severe abdominal pain.

Use Ice Packs

Ice packs help reduce inflammation and swelling after this type of surgery (2). Use ice packs on your abdomen to help relieve pain and swelling. Follow your doctor’s instructions concerning how long to use the ice pack, and do not apply the ice directly to the skin. Instead, use a cloth between your skin and the ice pack to prevent frostbite.

Stay Away from Fatty Foods

Avoid high-fat foods, such as hamburgers, hot dogs, bacon, and ice cream (3). Choose lean meats and low-fat dairy products like skim milk or yogurt instead of whole milk or cheese, which tend to be high in fat. Also, avoid fried and greasy foods. You can start eating these foods about five to seven days after your surgery.

You should incorporate proteins in your diet as much as possible. These proteins will aid healing, repair damaged cells, and promote cell growth. Foods high in proteins include meats like chicken, eggs, and fish such as cod and tuna.

(Video) How to manage symptoms after cholecystectomy - pain after gall bladder removal surgery

Take Medications

To help prevent infections, you should take antibiotics as prescribed by your doctor after surgery. The antibiotics kill bacteria and are also used to help treat chills, diarrhea, and vomiting. In particular, you can take acetaminophen or aspirin for pain relief as needed. Aspirin helps decrease inflammation and helps reduce swelling and discomfort following this procedure (4). Medication can also help prevent blood clots (thrombosis) in the legs that can result from this surgery, and it can also be used to treat pain associated with gallbladder removal.

Take Nutritional Supplements

Begin taking nutritional supplements for supplemental nutrition for optimal recovery following surgery. Supplementing your diet with a multivitamin and mineral supplement can help replenish the nutrition lost in the stress of surgery, especially if you could not eat a well-balanced diet before having surgery.

Avoid Driving Your Car

You should not drive for at least one week following the surgery and check with the doctors before driving again if you feel drowsy or lightheaded. You should always be cautious about being drowsy when driving, even if it has been more than a week since your surgery. Your body will take time to heal after any surgical procedure, and these conditions should not be ignored or dismissed as usual symptoms of recovery from surgery. If you are driving and get sleepy, pull over and sit down for a little while to rest.

Avoid Smoking

If you smoke, you should stop entirely after your surgery because it can decrease blood flow to your liver, which may slow or prevent healing. Smoking can also cause various complications after a cholecystectomy, leading to a need for additional operations.

Don’t Forget About Your Mental Health

Post-operative complications can affect your mental health. Depression and stress are common issues for patients who have gone through surgery. One of the intriguing gallbladder surgery aftercare is to seek help from a mental health professional and let them know about your recent surgery to get the best treatment possible. Even if you do not want to go on medication, writing feelings down on paper or talking to a counselor can help.

If anything upsets your stomach or indigestion, you can safely sip on an antacid solution or a mild liquid antiemetic medicine to settle the upset stomach. Again, if you are taking any medications, it is critical to carefully follow your doctor’s instructions to ensure a safe recovery and avoid complications.

Avoid Infections

Do not expose the surgical incision area to sunlight or air as much as possible to prevent infection. Also, avoid coming into contact with people who have the flu as it can cause pneumonia. The appropriate way to avoid infection is to wash your hands thoroughly and regularly, so if you feel weak for a few days after your surgery, let someone else do the house chores.

(Video) What to expect from gallbladder removal surgery - Online interview

Get Enough Sleep

It is critical to get a good night’s sleep during your recovery from surgery. In some cases, you can experience sleepless nights due to the pain from the surgery. Lying down on your back can make it difficult to breathe, so do not worry about trying different positions until you find one that lets you sleep without any problems.

Gallbladder Removal After Care - Things You Need To Remember - Gallstone Clinic (4)

Risks Associated with Following a Gallbladder Removal Procedure

While the gallbladder removal procedure is relatively safe, some risks will be involved with such a critical procedure.

Infection During Surgery

Most gallbladder surgery is performed with laparoscopic assistance so that the surgeon has a clear view of the area being operated on. The use of lighted, thin, and flexible tubes called trocars allows the surgeon to place small surgical instruments into the abdomen to remove your diseased gallbladder. That is one method used to reduce surgical risks such as infection. Bacteria can get into the bloodstream during surgery, resulting in an infection if not treated appropriately. However, these infections will be minor and easily treated with antibiotics. Should an infection occur during your gallbladder removal procedure, you may remain in the hospital for a more extended period until you recover or your treatment is complete.

Bleeding During Surgery

Sometimes patients do not bleed enough following the removal of their gallbladder, which may be due to blood sugar problems. That is more often the case in elderly patients and those with serious health problems. Some patients are given blood thinners before surgery to help minimize bleeding problems after the procedure, while others are given iron supplements as a preventative measure. If you have been prescribed a medication to help minimize bleeding, discuss all medications taken with your surgeon and follow treatment instructions carefully.

Death or Disability Due to Surgery

Disability is one of the most severe risks associated with gallbladder removal surgery. In most cases, death results from poor general health or other preexisting conditions in gallbladder surgery patients. It is rare for someone to die during gallbladder removal, but there are some cases where this may happen. If you have a genetic predisposition for gallstone disease and have been diagnosed with gallstones in the past, you will be at higher risk for complications during your surgery.

Swelling After Surgery

Some patients have excessive swelling in the abdominal area after gallbladder removal because of the number of organs removed or damaged during the procedure. Taking in supplements after gallbladder removal will aid in your transition to a no-gallbladder-free life.That can become a severe problem if the swelling does not go down soon after surgery, and some patients may need additional treatment to help reduce this type of swelling.

Gallbladder Removal After Care - Things You Need To Remember - Gallstone Clinic (5)
(Video) What you need to know BEFORE you have your gallbladder removed

Cholecystectomy is not a known surgical procedure for weight loss but to help reduce the risk of developing bile duct cancer or other complications in people who have an increased risk. People experience risks from undergoing this operation vary depending on their health and other conditions, but these risks are limited. Therefore, it is still critical that patients take care of themselves after surgery by making sure they eat well, get enough rest and take the recommended medication.

Article Studies, References, and Resources

  1. Water, Hydration, and Health By Barry M. Popkin
  2. Scientific Evidence-Based Effects of Hydrotherapy on Various Systems of the Body By A Mooventhan -
  3. Gallbladder Diet By Stephanie Watson
  4. Effect of aspirin on gallbladder motility in patients with gallstone disease By A Das –


What care is needed after gallbladder removal? ›

Lifting heavy objects (heavier than 6 kg.) and strenuous exercise are not suggested for at least 4-6 weeks after surgery. Keep the surgical wound (incision) clean and follow surgeon's instructions on how and when to replace the bandage. It seems common to have some minor bleeding from the incision.

What precautions should you take after gallstone surgery? ›

Don't eat high-fat foods, fried and greasy foods, and fatty sauces and gravies for at least a week after surgery. Instead, choose fat-free or low-fat foods. Low-fat foods are those with no more than 3 grams of fat in a serving. Check labels and follow the serving size listed.

What precautions should be taken during gallbladder removal? ›

To prepare for a cholecystectomy, your surgeon may ask you to:
  • Eat nothing the night before your surgery. You may drink a sip of water with your medications, but avoid eating and drinking at least four hours before your surgery.
  • Stop taking certain medications and supplements.
Sep 18, 2021

What is one of the most common complaints after a cholecystectomy? ›

The symptoms include fatty food intolerance, nausea, vomiting, heartburn, flatulence, indigestion, diarrhea, jaundice, and intermittent episodes of abdominal pain. Post-cholecystectomy syndrome can present early, typically in the post-operative period, but can also manifest months to years after surgery.

How long is bed rest after gallbladder surgery? ›

Generally, you should only need complete rest for the first 24 hours. After that, you should attempt to get up and walk as often as possible. Being active may even help you recover faster. Your body is good at telling you when you've reached your limit, so listen and rest when it tells you.

What happens the first week after gallbladder removal? ›

bloating, flatulence and diarrhoea – this can last a few weeks; eating high-fibre food such as fruit, vegetables, brown rice and wholemeal bread can help to firm up your stools, and your GP may also be able to prescribe medication to help.

What not to do after laparoscopic cholecystectomy? ›

DO NOT LIFT, PUSH OR PULL MORE THAN 20 lbs. or use your abdominal muscles for 4 weeks after surgery. This allows time for your incisions to heal and reduces the risk of incisional hernia formation. You should be up and moving around the night of your surgery and walking 5-6 times a day at a minimum there after.

How long does your stomach stay swollen after gallbladder surgery? ›

In most cases, most traces of swelling are gone within several weeks after surgery.

How much weight do you typically lose after gallbladder surgery? ›

How much Weight Do you typically Lose after Gallbladder Removal Surgery? After the surgery, you'll likely experience an average weight loss of 130 lbs. due to: Eliminating fatty foods.

Can I eat pizza after gallbladder surgery? ›

Fried, Greasy, and Junk Foods

While you recover, don't eat junk foods like pizza and potato chips. You don't have to avoid them forever. Allow yourself some of these foods once in a while after you recover, but try and limit it to once a month and in small quantities.

What is the best position to sleep after gallbladder surgery? ›

Sleeping Positions

Some advice tells you it is okay to sleep on your left side if you absolutely must. Sleeping on the right side after gallbladder surgery is not only forbidden, but will also be pretty much impossible because it will be so painful. That is where your incisions are!

Can you do housework after gallbladder surgery? ›

This includes heavy exercising, weightlifting, and other activities that make you breathe hard, strain, cause pain or pull on the incision. It may take several weeks for you to be able to do these kinds of activities. Taking short walks and using stairs are OK. Light housework is OK.

What hurts the most after gallbladder surgery? ›

The incision and your abdominal muscles may ache, especially after long periods of standing. If you had a laparoscopic surgery, you may feel pain from any carbon dioxide gas still in your belly. This pain may last for a few days. It should feel a bit better each day.

What is the most feared complication of cholecystectomy? ›

Bile duct injury is perhaps the most feared complication of laparoscopic cholecystectomy.

What is the most serious complication after laparoscopic cholecystectomy? ›

Bile duct injuries are the most serious complications associ- ated with laparoscopic cholecystectomy, with a rate of occur- rence as low as 0.2%, although one reported complication rate was 7% [6-10].

Should you be alone after gallbladder surgery? ›

After minimally invasive laparoscopic gallbladder surgery, most people leave the hospital or surgery center the same day as the operation. If you live alone, plan to have someone stay with you for the first 24 hours, when you may still be feeling the effects of the anesthesia.

What happens after your gallbladder is removed? ›

Living without a gallbladder

Your liver will still make enough bile to digest your food, but instead of being stored in the gallbladder, it drips continuously into your digestive system. You may have been advised to eat a special diet before surgery, but this doesn't need to be continued afterwards.

What are the long term side effects of gallbladder removal? ›

Long-term effects of gallbladder removal include diarrhea, fatty food intolerance, gas, heartburn, nausea, vomiting, jaundice, and intermittent episodes of abdominal pain. Symptoms of post-cholecystectomy syndrome typically begin in the postoperative period, but can also begin months or years after surgery.


1. Gallbladder Surgery Vlog || Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy
(Aimee Esther)
2. Tips after Gallbladder Surgery/ Gall Bladder Stone Removal - Dr. Aparna Govil Bhasker, Mumbai, India
(Dr Aparna Govil Bhasker)
3. Laparoscopic Gallbladder Surgery Informed Consent
(The Everett Clinic, part of Optum)
(Life After the Fontan)
5. I Got My Gallbladder Removed At 21
6. Gallbladder disease: Mayo Clinic Radio
(Mayo Clinic)
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