Edmund has spent the last ten years working in clinical research. He has written many articles on human anatomy and physiology.
Gallbladder surgery used to be a major undertaking. Today, thanks to advances in science, we can have safer and less invasive surgeries. For the patient, this means less pain and a quicker recovery when compared to open surgery.
Surgeons can now do quite complex and advance surgeries through tiny incisions. This technique is called Keyhole or Laparoscopic surgery. When it is done to remove the gallbladder, we call it Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy.
The recovery time for gallbladder surgery varies from person to person. While some people are able to return to work a week after surgery, others need several months to recover.
What Happens During Gallbladder Surgery?
Here are some things to expect during surgery:
- A few tiny incisions, usually three or four, will be made in your abdomen. They will knock you out with a general anesthetic, so you shouldn’t feel a thing during the operation.
- Carbon dioxide gas will be used to inflate your abdomen. This makes it easy for the surgeon to see what they're doing. Surgical instruments, including a camera, will be inserted into your abdomen through the incisions.
- Your surgeon will use the camera to see inside and maybe take some photos. The gallbladder will be removed through one of the incisions.
- After the gallbladder has been removed, the incisions will be stitched and dressed.
What Is the Recovery Time for Gallbladder Surgery?
- When the operation is performed laparoscopically, you are in and out of the hospital on the same day.
- Issues with pain management may cause you to spend the night in the hospital.
- Sometimes, the surgeon may need to stop the laparoscopic procedure and convert to open surgery. When this happens, most people will stay in the hospital for two to three days.
According to the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons, you will probably be able to resume normal activities within a week. Most people will make a full recovery after seven to ten days.
You may return to work if it does not involve any strenuous activity such as heavy lifting. Otherwise, you may need up to a month of recovery time.
Make sure you follow all of your post-surgery instructions. Your healthcare team should give you these instructions and make sure you understand them. Don't rush into manual labor too soon. If you do, your body will let you know.
How Much Pain Will I Be in After Gallbladder Surgery?
It is not as bad as open surgery but those who’ve had their gallbladder removed would agree that it absolutely does hurt. So don’t expect to be pain-free after the operation.
You may need someone to help you at home for a few days after the operation. During this time, you may experience pain or have difficulty while performing the following activities:
- Getting in/out of bed
- Getting on/off the couch
- Laying on your side
Other Common Postoperative Side Effects
- A sore throat: You will probably have a sore throat as a result of the intubation—a tube forced down your throat during the operation.
- Bloating: Blame this on the gas that was used to pump you up during the operation.
- This gas can also cause pain in your abdomen and shoulder.
- It takes a couple of days for the gas to make its way out.
- It is believed that walking helps you get rid of the gas, so try not to stay in bed or on the couch all day.
- Constipation: This is a common problem after gallbladder surgery.
- Some painkillers are known to cause constipation.
- Take advice from your doctor. They will probably give you a stool softener to help ease it.
It is important to note that not everybody is the same. What you experience may differ from what I just described. If you would like to add something, please feel free to do so in the comment section below.
What Are Potential Complications of Gallbladder Surgery?
Just like any other surgery, gallbladder surgery comes with a set of risks.
- Risk of bleeding and infection: According to ACS, the risk of bleeding and infection is quite rare.
- Infection occurs less than 0.1% of the time. This basically means that an infection occurs in one out of every 1000 cases.
- More serious complications include injury to surrounding organs and bile leakage. These are even rarer than the risk of infection.
- Persistent Pain: There is a 1% chance that the pain still continues after the gallbladder is removed. The doctor may or may not come up with a good explanation of why the pain persists.
- Sometimes, pain after surgery can be due to a stone in the bile duct, so this stone was somewhere else when the gallbladder was removed. Another surgery may be required to fix this.
- Diarrhea and a sense of urgency after a fatty meal: This is a common long-term complication after gallbladder surgery.
- Eating the wrong food can be very uncomfortable and even embarrassing, so you will need to watch what you eat after your operation.
I am not trying to scare anyone from having their surgery. It is important for you to know what you could possibly go through during and after surgery. I might have left out a few points, so talk to your doctor about this stuff; they might have some interesting information for you.
Remember that the gallbladder surgery recovery time is different for each person. While some people are up and about in one or two days, others need a lot more time.
Let me know how your experience has been in the comments below.
Robotic Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy
Ever heard of the Robotic Gallbladder Removal Surgery aka Robotic Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy? Check out the video below to see how the surgeon uses a robot to perform the operation.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Tara on October 26, 2019:
I had Laproscopic surgery 3 weeks ago. I’m so glad we finally found out what was making me sick for months! I felt so much better after surgery and followed the low fat, high fiber diet. But I’m still having pain after any meal! I’m thinking of following up with a GI Dr. I understand it probably just takes time and I am being impatient. Putting it in God’s hands! Thank you for the info. It is reassuring!
Linda on July 19, 2018:
Had laproscopic one week ago today. Im 68, other than the awful gas that lasted about 36 hours I'm doing great. Felt like someone shot me in the shoulder that night but walk if i could they said and that i did. Helped so much. Since ive walked up to my garden, about a half mile round trip the past 3 days and pruned etc., just cateful not to lift as was told. As far as eating I've craved berries and melons. Haven't had any problems with diarrhea, dont anticipate any, and am introducing food a little at a time. We'll see how it goes. My God has been with me all the way and healed i am! Thanks for this useful information.
Gallbladder gone on February 06, 2018:
I had my gallbladder out a week ago. I have had some serous bloating the first couple of days, but it's not so bad now. I ate chicken and garlic bread the 2nd day after my surgery. It bloated my tummy like I was pregnant again. But I was hungry so I had to eat. I had been drinking smoothies with fruit And pure pear, pineapple and Apple juice up until then. Which was fine. I have definitely noticed that my appetite is less. I'm more uncomfortable than in pain. It feels like I'm walking around with a water balloon in my tummy. I go for a short 10 minute walk after dinner to get rid of the gas and move the food around. I was constipated for 4 days after. The pharmacist gave me stool softeners and I drank juice and water. Ate some prunes and figs. Cleaned me right out. Than the bloating went away. I know it was the meds that made me constipated. I was on hydromorphone. I'm glad I got the surgery. I had quite a few attacks before the surgery. The pain from that was unbelievable! I am still off work. But I think I've faired better than some others. I know it will be a slow healing process, and I'm optimistic that it can only get better! I hope that everyone has a speedy recovery! And those that are having a shitty time of it, I hope it doesn't last forever. I think I'm one of the few that didn't have to many complications. Definetly fluids and fruit and eating food was a big thing for me, and having a piece of chocolate today was great healing for me. Remember, EVERYONE is different!
Sherry on August 02, 2017:
I am here to make your day, for anyone that has sudden onset of diarrhea following their first meal of the day- after having their gallbladder removed. Ask your dr to prescribe you Prevalite! One scoop of the powder with a glass of ice and orange juice in the morning. No more accidents and no more rushing to the bathroom. I had my gallbladder out almost 30 years ago and finally found a dr that knew what I needed and I have used Prevalite for at least 23 years and I couldn't imagine not having it.
Sue Carroll on February 26, 2017:
Had my gall bladdee removed yesterday and been up evwry hour through night trying to wee. Weeing little bits. I understand this is because of anaesthetic and hoping it will improve. Had large gallstone and general pain. Ditto trouble gettibg up and down and sore wounds.
Apart from pain in recovery room, all as I expected. Wish I could wee properly though. Want to sleep but read that walking around would help.
Thankyoufor the info. V useful.
Mike H on November 08, 2016:
Had laparoscopic gallbladder surgery Nov 2. Ultrasound had shown gallstones. HIDA scan revealed an ejection fraction of 6%. My doctor spoke to my wife in the waiting room after the surgery. He said I had several stones. One of which was at one end of the gallbladder and was too large to grasp with tool he had inside me. Had to manipulate the gallbladder from the other end. I'm healing well. Going through the normal aches and pains. One day at a time. So far so good.
forben on October 07, 2015:
I have had s double bypass (including Widow Maker), and a Colon Resection (6 inches +) and both were much more enjoyable then the Gallbladder Keyhole. Standing up, setting down(feet up- feet down), walking, Legs are a disaster. Sleep, fitful.
Crazy thing, I had NO gallbladder pain or difficulty with diet. I ate what I wanted, when I wanted, and am my wife's "caregiver" ( I hate that word}. Should not complain, we have had 68 wonderful years together.
The reason I got into this surgery is too involved to explain here. I did agree to the surgery, so I guess I should shut up . If it matters; I am 89 years old.
I will now !
stella vadakin from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619 on August 17, 2015:
Hi, My daughter had her gallbladder removed on Friday and she feels good. She was in hospital for 2 days. Hurts to get up. Stella
Jessica on March 25, 2015:
I just got my gallbladder removed almost two weeks ago. It was very painful when i first woke up but it's a lot better now. However I still can't eat what i want. Or I pay for it. I am also wondering what did your incisions look like after the glue came off?
Bill Cockrell on October 29, 2014:
Had my gallbladder removed 24th.Oct.2014. Im still in pain but its not as bad has before and I feel I am improving each day. I have to agree with Vera J. above I too am having a hard time breathing in at times. Very good information above. Thanks for sharing. Also I would say its not good to laugh it will hurt lol.
Vera J. on October 09, 2014:
I just had my gallbladder removed 10/1/2014.. I'm still on a little pain... All the information I just read was very, very helpful, thank you and I thank my Dr.'s that did the surgery. I still have a bit of trouble breathing in ( taking a deep breath) my recovery will be slow, but with faith and prayer I'm sure I'll make it through. Again thank you for all the wonderful information... I will take heed on what I can an cannot eat.
Steven on August 15, 2014:
I just got my gallbladder it was nothing but trouble ,these doctors have a hand of God .Now i could live without pain not being surprise with pain by that bad gallblader.
JP Carlos from Quezon CIty, Phlippines on April 28, 2014:
My dad had a gallbladder surgery several years back. the recovery period was uncomfortable for him.