Life After Gallbladder Removal Surgery (2023)

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(Video) Life after Gallbladder Surgery - Dr. Canfield

Some people may experience side effects from gallbladder removal, ranging from diarrhea and difficulty digesting fat to intestinal injury and infection.

The gallbladder is a small pouch-like organ on the right side of your abdomen. Its job is to store and release bile, a substance made by the liver to help you digest fats.

The most frequent forms of gallbladder disease arise from having too much cholesterol or bilirubin, a liver pigment, in your bile. This leads to:

  • gallstones
  • acute or chronic inflammation caused by gallstones
  • bile duct stones

If symptoms become too uncomfortable or interfere with your health, doctors may suggest either open or laparoscopic gallbladder removal.

Fortunately, you can live a healthy life without your gallbladder, and the surgery to remove it is relatively simple. Without a gallbladder, bile can move directly from your liver to your intestines to aid in digestion. However, there’s still some chance that you might experience side effects after gallbladder removal.

Any surgery has potential complications, including incision bleeding, movement of surgical materials to other parts of the body, pain, or infection — with or without a fever. It’s possible you’ll experience digestive side effects when your gallbladder is removed.

Difficulty digesting fat

It may take your body time to adjust to its new method of digesting fat. The medications you were given during surgery may also cause indigestion. This doesn’t typically last long, but some patients do develop longer-term side effects, usually caused by bile leaking into other organs or gallstones that were left behind in the bile ducts.

Diarrhea and flatulence

Indigestion can cause diarrhea or flatulence, often made worse by excess fat or too little fiber in the diet. Bile leakage can mean having an insufficient amount of bile in the intestines to digest fat, which loosens stool.

(Video) How long is the recovery process after gallbladder surgery? - Frankfort Regional Medical Center


Although removal of a diseased gallbladder usually reduces constipation, surgery and anesthesia used during the procedure can lead to short-term constipation. Dehydration can make the constipation worse.

Intestinal injury

During gallbladder removal, it’s rare but possible for a surgeon to damage the intestines. This may result in cramping. Some pain is normal following any surgery, but if it continues beyond a few days or gets worse instead of better, speak to your doctor.

Jaundice or fever

A stone that remains in a bile duct after gallbladder removal surgery can cause severe pain, or jaundice, which is the yellowing of the skin. A complete blockage can cause an infection.

If there are no complications, your recovery from gallbladder surgery should go smoothly.

To increase the chances of success, your doctor may suggest that you remain in the hospital for three to five days if you have open surgery. If you have keyhole, or laparoscopic, surgery, you may be able to go home the same day.

Either way, try not to physically strain yourself for at least two weeks.

Your medical team will teach you how to clean your wounds and watch for infection. Don’t shower until you get the green light from your doctor.

Your doctor may prescribe a liquid or bland diet for the first few days. After that, they’ll probably suggest adding back your usual foods, little by little. Drink water throughout the day. It’s also a good idea to eat simple fruits and vegetables while limiting highly salty, sweet, spicy, or fatty foods.

Fiber is essential for good digestion after surgery, but limit your initial intake of the following:

(Video) Cholecystectomy | Gallbladder Removal Surgery | Nucleus Health

  • nuts
  • seeds
  • whole grains
  • brussels sprouts
  • broccoli
  • cauliflower
  • cabbage
  • high-fiber cereals

Although it’s normal to have some side effects after surgery, if you notice any of the following, contact a doctor right away:

  • pain that doesn’t get better with time, new abdominal pain, or pain that gets worse
  • intense nausea or vomiting
  • yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes
  • no bowel movement or passing of gas for more than three days after surgery
  • diarrhea that continues for three or more days following surgery

Gallbladder removal is a last resort. If your doctor doesn’t feel that surgery is urgent, you may want to try lifestyle changes first.

Diet and exercise

Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight can reduce pain and complications from gallbladder disease by reducing the cholesterol and inflammation that can cause gallstones.

A diet lower in fat and higher in fiber, and full of fruits and vegetables, can also improve gallbladder health. Swap animal fats, fried foods, and oily packaged snacks for olive oil and other healthy fats. Limit or avoid sugar.

Regular exercise can help your body reduce cholesterol and prevent gallstones from forming. Magnesium deficiency can increase your risk of developing gallstones. Eat magnesium-rich foods, including dark chocolate, spinach, nuts, seeds, and beans to improve gallbladder health.

(Video) Gallbladder Removal Side Effects

Gallbladder cleanse

A gallbladder cleanse usually refers to avoiding food for up to 12 hours, then drinking a liquid recipe like the following: 4 tablespoons of olive oil with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice every 15 minutes for two hours.


Apple cider vinegar and turmeric both have been shown to reduce inflammation. If you mix them with warm water you can enjoy them as a tea-like drink and may experience relief of your gallbladder symptoms. Some people find the menthol in peppermint tea to be soothing as well.

Some studies have shown the benefits of turmeric on gallstone formation. However, if you have gallstones, be careful how much turmeric you ingest. One 2002 study with 12 healthy participants showed 50 percent contraction of the gallbladder due to curcumin. This increased contraction could cause pain.


In addition to magnesium, choline plays a role in gallbladder health.

According to the Harvard Health Letter, bile salts may be worth a try as well, especially if your liver has been producing thick bile. Bile acids also come in prescription strength.

Speak to a doctor or nutritionist about taking one or more of these supplements if you have gallstones or a blocked bile duct.


Acupuncture may be of potential benefit to those with gallbladder disease. It most likely works by increasing the flow of bile while also reducing spasms and pain.

It’s important to note that although diet and exercise are proven methods of reducing gallbladder complications, other methods like cleanses, tonics, and supplements haven’t been studied extensively, and side effects may occur. Be sure to discuss these options with your healthcare provider before proceeding.

Gallbladder removal is a fairly common procedure, but it’s always possible that you may experience some side effects. Knowing how to identify and reduce symptoms, side effects, and complications before and after surgery may make for an easier experience.

(Video) Gallbladder surgery recovery times and dangerous post op symptoms


Life After Gallbladder Removal Surgery? ›

Most people can return to their regular lives after gallbladder removal. Successful adjustment often involves adopting coping strategies like lifestyle changes and managing fat intake for a smoother transition post-surgery. Although, some patients may experience fecal incontinence after gallbladder surgery.

Can I live a normal life after gallbladder surgery? ›

You can lead a perfectly normal life 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.

What is quality of life after gallbladder removal? ›

Contrary to popular belief, you can live normally without a gall bladder. Without your gall bladder, your liver will release bile directly into the small intestine, and this allows your body to digest most foods normally.

Will I ever be the same after gallbladder removal? ›

You can expect to live a perfectly normal life after gallbladder surgery but may experience temporary side effects related to the way your digestive system processes fatty foods. These symptoms may include loose stools or diarrhea, bloating, cramping, and excess gas in response to meals or certain foods.

What are permanent issues after gallbladder removal? ›

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.

Will I ever be able to eat normal after gallbladder surgery? ›

“While you might have to change your diet after gallbladder surgery, most people can resume their normal pattern of eating after a few weeks,” says Vicky Bhagat, MD, gastroenterologist at Geisinger.

Is it worth getting gallbladder removed? ›

Most doctors recommend surgery if you have had repeated attacks. If you have had one attack of gallstone pain, you may want to wait to see whether you have more. Surgery is the best way to prevent gallstone attacks. The surgery is very common, so doctors have a lot of experience with it.

Can you have liver problems after gallbladder removal? ›

Can removal of the gallbladder cause liver problems? Yes, gallbladder removal can increase your risk of liver problems like NALFD. If you have had your gallbladder removed, you should ensure you eat a healthy diet to support your liver and other digestive organs.

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.

What you can and Cannot do after gallbladder surgery? ›

Avoid strenuous activities, such as biking, jogging, weightlifting, and aerobic exercise, until your doctor says it is okay. Ask your doctor when you can drive again. For a laparoscopic surgery, most people can go back to work or their normal routine in 1 to 2 weeks, but it may take longer.

Can you drink alcohol with no gallbladder? ›

Avoiding alcohol immediately after having the gallbladder removed is best, although a person can drink moderately after recovery. While the gallbladder is an organ of the digestive tract, it does not play a role in metabolizing alcohol. Most of the alcohol people consume digests in the liver.

Are you more likely to gain or lose weight after gallbladder removal? ›

You may lose weight—at least temporarily.

Between the decreased appetite that is common after undergoing surgery and the dietary changes you will make as you recover, you may find that you are dropping some weight in the weeks after your gallbladder is removed.

What are the side effects 2 years after gallbladder removal? ›

Post-Cholecystectomy Syndrome
  • Fatty food intolerance.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Flatulence (gas)
  • Indigestion.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Jaundice (yellowish tinge to the skin and whites of the eyes)
  • Episodes of abdominal pain.
May 11, 2023

What is dumping syndrome after gallbladder removal? ›

Dumping syndrome is a condition in which food, especially food high in sugar, moves from your stomach into your small bowel too quickly after you eat. Sometimes called rapid gastric emptying, dumping syndrome most often occurs as a result of surgery on your stomach or esophagus.

Does removing your gallbladder affect your kidneys? ›

Kidney cancer risk was particularly increased in the first 6 months after cholecystectomy (HR, 3.79; 95% CI, 3.18–4.52) and in patients cholecystectomized before age 40 years (HR, 1.55; 95% CI, 1.39–1.72).

Can you live comfortably without a gallbladder? ›

Surgery is the best way to prevent gallstone attacks. The surgery is very common, so doctors have a lot of experience with it. Your body will work fine without a gallbladder. There may be small changes in how you digest food, but you probably won't notice them.

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 are the benefits of removing the gallbladder? ›

What are the benefits of gallbladder removal? Removing the gallbladder will stop the pain and treat the infection caused by gallstones. It can also stop gallstones from coming back. If gallstones are not treated, pain and infection can get worse.


1. Pain After Gallbladder Surgery - Mark Topazian, M.D.
(Mayo Clinic)
2. Gallbladder Surgery for Gallstones
(Nucleus Medical Media)
3. Life after Gallbladder SURGERY: 5 Things your doctor DIDN'T tell you
(Knife Skills)
4. Recovery after Gallbladder Surgery (Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy)
(Boston Hernia )
5. Does Removing Gallbladder affect Digestion? | Life After Gall Bladder Removal | Healing Hospital
(Healing Hospital Chandigarh)
6. Life Expectancy After Gallbladder Removal (Cholecystectomy)
(Weight Loss Tips)
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