Recovering From Gallbladder Removal Surgery: It's Different For Everyone

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Each person responds in an individual way after gallbladder removal surgery.

In fact, many patients find themselves dealing with the same discomfort they experienced before their gallbladder was taken out.

When this happens, doctors refer to it as postcholecystectomy syndrome. Cholecystectomy is the medical name for gallbladder removal.

Based on recent research done on this subject, it appears that as many as 40 percent of those who have a gallbladder removal operation experience postcholecystectomy syndrome. This happens because the bile duct, which has not been removed, still accumulates bile. The job of the bile duct is to carry bile between the liver and the gallbladder.

Whether you experience postcholecystectomy syndrome or not, there are some other things you can depend on after gallbladder removal surgery.

There’s bound to be some swelling and bruising in the area of the surgery. There’s really nothing surprising about this, even if you’ve had laparoscopic surgery (which is much less invasive than a large open incision).

You’ll probably also go through some minor discomfort due to the air your surgeon inserted into your abdomen during the operation. Inserting air into the surgical area is done to open up space for the surgeon to manipulate his or her instruments. If your pain is severe enough, your doctor will probably prescribe some pain medication.

You’re also likely to struggle a bit when trying to move about, especially when you need to sit down or get up from a sitting position. Using the bathroom may pose some problems and cause some discomfort. Muscles in the abdominal area will be pretty sore.

It’s also likely you’ll have an unusual amount of gas, bloating and some diarrhea in the days after your surgery. This is typical. Some people get constipation. It doesn’t happen to everyone, but it happens to enough people after gallbladder removal surgery that you should be aware of it. Talk to your doctor. He or she may be able to prescribe something.

Keep in mind, it’s completely normal for your digestive system to be somewhat unpredictable. For this reason, it’s a good idea to follow your doctor’s dietary instructions. Low cholesterol foods and cholesterol-free foods are generally considered to be a good idea for a while.

Your doctor will probably also suggest eating smaller meals instead of large ones. These pose less of a challenge for your digestive system. But make sure you get enough food because your body needs the fuel that comes from food to help with post-surgical recovery.

After 7-10 days, you can start some “trial and error” with your digestive system. Experiment with some heavier foods and see how it goes.

Check with your doctor about exercise. It can be a good thing, but you have to be smart about it – be careful not to try to do too much too soon. Be mindful of your stitches. Your doctor can give you some on this matter.

Generally speaking, it’s important to keep your stitches dry, so ask your doctor about baths and showers.

Most of the time, your doctor will want to do a follow up appointment in about one week. Another follow up appointment is likely in 4-5 weeks.

Would you like to get additional information on recovery after gallbladder surgery and related topics? Click on Gallbladder Removal Surgery – Facts You’ll Need. Neal Kennedy is a retired radio and TV journalist with a special interest in medical topics. You can read more of his articles at


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