What Should I Expect from Gallbladder Removal Surgery?

A scalpel is a small, sharp knife that is used in surgeries to make incisions.
A healthy gallbladder and one with gallstones.
Gallbladder removal surgery is not a trivial surgery due to long term consequences of the removal of the gallbladder.
A diagram of the digestive system, including the gallbladder.
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  • Written By: Emma Lloyd
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 27 July 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Gallbladder removal surgery, also called cholecystectomy, is carried out in people who have recurring gallbladder problems such as gallstones or gallbladder disease. Some people with gall stones experience repeated episodes of gallbladder attack, which causes intense pain. Gallstones can also cause chronic infection of the gallbladder. When these problems lead to continuous pain and other symptoms, gallbladder removal surgery is typically the preferred solution.

Preparing for gallbladder surgery usually requires a fully array of blood tests, as well as several x-rays to determine the location of any stones in the gallbladder. People undergoing gallbladder removal surgery will usually be asked to stop taking certain medications and stop smoking up to a week before surgery. They will also be asked to not eat or drink the night before.

Open gallbladder surgery means that a large incision is made in the abdominal wall, through which the gallbladder is removed. People who undergo this surgery will experience pain in the shoulders and abdomen afterward, and may need to stay in hospital for up to a week to recover. Other possible symptoms during recovery include indigestion, nausea, and vomiting. There is also a risk of infection in the incision site.

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When gallbladder removal surgery is performed using the laparoscopic method, pain is minimal after surgery, and recovery is much faster. This type of surgery requires four very small incisions in the abdominal wall, and is much less invasive than open surgery. While people who undergo open gallbladder surgery require several weeks to recover, patients can usually resume normal activities within just one week after laparoscopic surgery. Most people who undergo laparoscopic gallbladder surgery can go home the day after surgery.

Gallbladder removal surgery is not a trivial surgery, because of the possible long-term consequences of removal of the gallbladder. The gallbladder is a storage sack for bile, which is secreted when fat enters the small intestine, to aid in digestion. In the absence of a gallbladder bile continually drips into the intestine, which can cause chronic irritation and may cause diarrhea. In the long-term this chronic irritation leads to a slightly increased risk of colon cancer.

A diet low in fat and high in fiber can reduce bile production and reduce the effects of gallbladder surgery. This is because dietary fat stimulates the production of bile acids. In addition, eating more plant-based foods, including high-fiber foods, helps protect the bowel by deactivating bile acids.

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Discuss this Article

Larpar
Post 12

I had laparoscopic surgery a week ago. This is my first day home from the surgery. The healing pain for me has not been near as bad as the pain I experienced before the surgery. I had to have a stent put in a few days after the initial surgery and felt loads better after that procedure. It will be six to eight weeks before that is removed. I have some low to semi-moderate pain in the incision area, but extra strength tylenol helps.

For those wondering about a low fat diet and missing their favorite foods, please don't fret too much. There are ways to modify your favorite recipes so you can enjoy yourselves without feeling like you're missing out on the fun. I'm determined that re-programming myself to dismiss fatty foods isn't going to be a chore.

I feel very thankful and grateful for the advancements made in the area of gall bladder removal. My surgeon told me that 15 years ago many people did not make it and if they did, the pain was just brutal.

I do wish you all the best in your futures as low fat eaters. It will be all right; don't worry too much about the changes.

anon344528
Post 11

I recently had my gallbladder out and I was wondering if I should go get one of my incisions looked at. There seems to be a little bit of an indentation below the chest incision. It doesn't really stay there and flattens out, but I'm wondering if that's normal at all.

anon306556
Post 10

I went through open gallbladder surgery in July 2012. I still don't exactly get what's wrong with me. I have severe stomach bleeding problems even now. If any of you know what should I do, then kindly let me know.

anon292915
Post 9

Why does my head feel so weird after gallbladder removal?

julies
Post 8

My recovery when I had my gallbladder removed was long and slow. I was having a lot of problems and even after testing they didn't know for sure what was going on. They thought it might be my gallbladder, but there were other issues going on as well.

Mine ended up being an exploratory surgery and in the process they saw that my gallbladder was bad so they removed it.

Because of the probability that it was my gallbladder, they had me watch a gallbladder removal surgery video. After watching that I thought the recovery time would be better than what it actually was.

Most doctors will do this surgery now using a scope, and I will certainly recommend this as the way to go if you have any choice at all.

My incision site was sore for a long time and I never thought I would be able to laugh again without hurting.

honeybees
Post 7

I was not surprised when I was told I had to have my gallbladder removed. My dad and both of my grandmothers had this surgery done and they say it is not uncommon for this to be hereditary.

The advantage for me is that my surgery was able to be done using the laparoscopic method. My recovery time was so much quicker and I did not have to stay in the hospital very long at all.

I did notice that certain foods would bother me after my surgery. These were pretty much the same ones that I trouble with before the surgery.

I find that if I stay away from greasy, fatty foods and spicy foods that I do OK.

wavy58
Post 6

@Oceana - My dad had that type of surgery, and his doctor explained to him why his right shoulder was aching. I thought it was strange, too, but his explanation cleared things up for me.

During the operation, the surgeon has to inject carbon dioxide into the abdomen. This gas causes the diaphragm to stretch, and it becomes irritated. The diaphragm shares nerves with the shoulder, so when it is in pain, the shoulder feels pain as well.

You wouldn’t think that the diaphragm and the shoulder would be related by anything. I never would have guessed that they shared nerves.

Oceana
Post 5

My mom had her gallbladder removed the old-fashioned way, and she said she had a tough time getting back to normal. I think it’s weird that her shoulder ached from it, and it was just the right shoulder.

She stayed in the hospital for five days to recover from the procedure. She was very nauseated and sore. It hurt her to sit up in bed.

After she got out, it took two more weeks for her to recover enough to walk around the house. She missed a month of work, but they were very understanding.

Does anyone know why the surgery caused her right shoulder to hurt? I am just curious.

shell4life
Post 4

My friend had to have his gallbladder removed, and the pain hit him all at once. He had never had trouble with gallstones or gallbladder attacks in the past, but suddenly, he found himself rolling on the floor in agony. His wife had to help him to the car and rush him to the emergency room.

The doctor found that his gallbladder had gangrene. They had to operate as soon as possible.

He had the laparoscopic surgery, so he recovered quickly. He later told me that the pain from his gallbladder was the worst he had ever experienced.

OeKc05
Post 3

@wander - Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are what my doctor recommended after my gallbladder removal surgery. He did tell me to cut out fatty foods, so I’m sorry, but you probably need to stop eating them to avoid discomfort.

A few things on the list of foods to eat were cucumbers, beets, okra, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, salmon, grapes, trout, papaya, apples, and baby greens. This list is extensive, but I think that any food high in fiber would be good for your condition.

He said to avoid eating the skin of turkey and chicken, but eating the lean meat is fine. Fatty meats like bologna and ground beef are bad, though.

wander
Post 2

Can anyone tell me what to eat after gallbladder removal surgery?

I have been having issues with stomach pain for awhile and after finally getting it checked out I found that I have gallstones. I want to go on a gallbladder diet that will help me recover after I have my surgery for gallbladder removal.

I am pretty worried about my diet after gallbladder removal surgery because I have heard you can no longer enjoy fatty foods. While I know they are bad for you, I will really miss some of my favorite snacks if I have to cut out greasy stuff altogether.

manykitties2
Post 1

When I was only 22 I was suffering from gallbladder pain and found out that I had gallbladder stones. I was pretty horrified because I thought that only older people needed to have their gallbladders removed.

I ended up having laparoscopic surgery and let me tell you, it may not be as invasive as the large incision of the traditional surgery, but it hurts a lot when you're in recovery. I remember trying to sit up the day after surgery and bursting into tears because it hurt so much. Luckily, after the first week went by I was a lot better and could return to my normal life.

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