How Painful Is Gallbladder Surgery


Why Might I Need A Cholecystectomy

Pain After Gallbladder Surgery – Mark Topazian, M.D.

A cholecystectomy may be done if your gallbladder:

  • Has lumps of solid material

  • Is red or swollen , or infected

Gallbladder problems may cause pain which:

  • Is usually on the right side or middle of your upper belly

  • May be constant or may get worse after a heavy meal

  • May sometimes feel more like fullness than pain

  • May be felt in your back and in the tip of your right shoulder blade

Other symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, fever, and chills.

The symptoms of gallbladder problems may look like other health problems. Always see your healthcare provider to be sure.

Your healthcare provider may have other reasons to recommend a cholecystectomy.

Your Stool May Change

Prevention explains the change in the bile mixture may result in some unusual stools at least compared to what you had before gallbladder removal surgery.

So if you eat a high-fat meal, your poop might be a bit looser and this may be the case for life, explains the source. This also means you may need to stay closer to a bathroom if you plan to indulge in some greasy fast food, it adds.

Getting Back To Normal

Your surgeon can give you specific advice about when you can return to your normal activities.

Generally speaking, after keyhole surgery you can:

  • eat a normal diet straight away you can return to a normal diet even if you were advised to avoid certain foods before your operation, although you should try to have a generally healthy and balanced diet
  • do gentle exercises, such as walking but be careful not to push yourself too hard, too soon and ask your surgeon or GP for advice about returning to more strenuous exercise
  • drive again after a week or so but first make sure you can wear a seatbelt and practise an emergency stop without feeling any discomfort
  • have sex as soon as you feel up to it but try not to place weight on your wounds until they have healed
  • return to work after 7 to 14 days, depending on what your job involves

It can take a bit longer to return to these activities after open gallbladder removal surgery.

For example, you may not be able to drive or return to work for around 6 to 8 weeks.

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How To Avoid Discomfort For The Rest Of Your Life After Gallbladder Removal

Many of our patients report that they can eat all the same things they ate before surgery with no adverse effects. But some experience problems, such as gasiness, bloating, diarrhea, and cramping when they eat certain types of foods. If youre one of them, we recommend several strategies that can help you avoid these uncomfortable side effects:

  • Eat smaller meals more frequently throughout the day
  • Avoid fatty foods, such as dairy beef, fried foods, poultry skin, etc.
  • Cut back on caffeine and sodas, which can increase stomach acid
  • Limit high-fiber foods
  • Avoid spicy foods

Its a good idea to keep a food journal so you can identify a pattern between your diet and your symptoms. There are several apps available to help you keep track on your phone. This helps you narrow down your personal triggers, so you can avoid them.

As the months and years pass, you may find that you can tolerate those problematic foods, so pay attention to your body and how it responds. But if you need to maintain these changes for the long haul, the upside is that youll be eating a healthier diet and thats good for your whole body.

If you have symptoms of gallbladder disease, dont ignore them. Schedule an appointment online or call our friendly staff today. Relief from gallbladder disease is available.

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How To Prepare For Surgery

Gallbladder Removal Side Effects

There are a few ways to prepare for a cholecystectomy which will be outlined by your doctor. The exact instructions on how to prepare will be up to your doctor, however, there are a couple of common guidelines you can follow.

Its often recommended to take a shower the night before your surgery or the morning before and your surgeon may request you to use antibacterial soap. The doctor will also outline a time to stop eating and drinking leading up to the surgery. Your doctor might also prescribe certain medications to take before surgery which could include blood thinners or supplements.

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How Can Gallbladder Pain Be Prevented

The best way to prevent gallbladder pain is by maintaining a healthy diet. Certain foods can cause problems with your gallbladder or aggravate current issues. You should try to avoid high amounts of:

In addition, try to eat on a schedule. Dont skip meals or try to lose weight too quickly. Losing weight too fast can increase your risk of gallstones. Make sure to get plenty of exercise. Regular physical activity can reduce your chances of developing gallstones.

When To Contact The Office

Please call the office if you experience any of the following:

  • Persistent fever over 101° F
  • Increasing abdominal swelling
  • Pain that is not relieved by your medications
  • Persistent nausea or vomiting
  • Purulent drainage from any incision
  • Redness surrounding any of your incisions that is worsening or getting bigger
  • Inability to eat or drink liquids

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What To Expect After Surgery

What Should I Expect after Gallbladder Removal Surgery ?

Going home

You can probably go home the day you have your surgery, or you might stay in the hospital overnight. You need to be able to drink liquids before you go home.

Will I be in pain?

You will feel some pain after surgery. Pain at the incision sites and in your abdomen is common. You might also have pain in your shoulders. This is from the air put into your abdomen during the operation. The shoulder pain should go away in 24 to 48 hours.

You can take non-prescription medications to relieve pain, unless your doctor tells you not to. Acetaminophen and ibuprofen are examples of non-prescription pain medications. Putting ice on your incisions can also help. Ask your doctor or nurse about the correct way to use ice.

Your surgeon might prescribe a small amount of narcotic pain medicine to help you with pain. Many people recover from surgery without taking any narcotic pain medicine, but some will need narcotics for a few days. If you have questions about pain after surgery, ask the surgeon or your nurses. They should be able to tell you how long the pain will last and what to expect.

You might feel sick to your stomach or throw up after your surgery. Having surgery and anesthesia can make this happen. You should feel better in a day or two. Tell your doctor or nurse if you keep vomiting or feeling nauseated.


You can probably go back to normal activity about a week after laparoscopic gallbladder removal.

What Causes Gallbladder Pain

Recovery after Gallbladder Surgery (Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy)

The most common cause of gallbladder pain is gallstones. Gallstones, or cholelithiasis, are stone-like objects that can develop in your gallbladder. Theyre made of hardened materials in your body. Most gallstones are made of cholesterol. Gallstones range in size. They can be as small as a grain of salt to as big as a golf ball. Many people with gallstones may not know they have them and may not need treatment.

Other causes of gallbladder pain include:

Bile duct stones

Gallstones can also travel from your gallbladder to your common bile duct, which is your largest bile duct. Common bile duct stones are less common and more serious than gallbladder stones. When a stone makes its way out of your gallbladder, it can block your common bile duct. This can result in serious medical conditions such as pancreatitis.

Gallbladder inflammation

Gallstones can cause cholecystitis, which is the inflammation of your gallbladder. This can occur when a gallstone blocks the flow of bile out of your gallbladder. When bile gets trapped in your gallbladder, bacteria can collect and an infection can develop.

Gallbladder disease

Gallbladder polyps

Gallbladder polyps are abnormal growths of tissue inside the lining of your gallbladder. These polyps are mostly harmless, but they can signal another gallbladder condition. They can cause complications such as inflammation. About 5% of gallbladder polyps can cause cancer.

Gallbladder cancer

Bile duct cancer

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How We Remove Your Gallbladder

At Surgical Consultants of Northern Virginia, our skilled surgeons use a minimally invasive surgical technique whenever possible. In many cases, we can remove your gallbladder through a single tiny incision with the help of the da Vinci® robotic surgery system.

This system allows us to make extremely precise movements during the procedure that are more accurate and efficient than the human hand can accomplish alone. Our surgeons are still in control of the procedure, but they have the advantage of 3D imagery and robot-assisted movements to reduce tissue damage, pain, blood loss, scarring, and recovery time.

Recurrence Or Missing Of Gallstones Inside The Bile Ducts

You can have a gallstone after gallbladder removal, even years later. The gallstones dont come back inside the gallbladder because they are no longer present.

The possible sites of the gallstones after gallbladder removal are :

  • Missed or newly formed gallstone inside the common bile duct .
  • Missed stone in the cystic duct .
  • Newly formed stones in the hepatic ducts (right, left, or common hepatic ducts.
  • Newly formed gallstones inside the liver .

Symptoms of gallstones after gallbladder removal:

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Gallbladder Surgery Recovery Process

If you had laparoscopic gallbladder removal surgery, you will most likely be able to go home the same day. If you had an open gallbladder removal surgery, you may need to stay 1 to 2 nights in the hospital for observation.

When you wake up from the procedure, you will be encouraged to walk around and get your circulation moving within a couple of hours. Your doctor will advise you on specific activities you may need to avoid for a couple of days.

You may experience diarrhea or nausea when you begin to eat after your gallbladder surgery, but that should resolve quickly.

Gallbladder surgery might cause pain and discomfort while you heal, but you can usually be back to your regular activities within a week or so.

As far as long-term recovery goes, you may experience some lingering pain or abdominal discomfort, but most all of that should be gone six weeks after surgery.

Can I Function Without A Gallbladder

During and after my gallbladder removal yesterday morning. (First Post ...

Yes you can. The bile will still be produced in the liver and find its way to the small intestine. It will continue to break down your dietary fats and to remove toxins from the liver. The difference is that the bile will no longer be as concentrated and its function as a regulator will be gone. Some people have no problem with this at all others have problems with getting the right amount of bile at the right time, either too much or too little.

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Pain After Gallbladder Surgery Should I Be Worried


Newby here. I am about 5 weeks post lap chole and I have been having a hard time healing. Everytime I think I’ve healed, I get sharp muscle pains , these pains also started to shoot over to the left side. My doctor said I just have inflammation of those muscles d/t too much activity or that I strained something, but how come there is nothing about that anywhere you read? I know not to trust “Dr. Google” but I just don’t know how to determine if the pain is normal, I’m 28 years old and have a hard time remaining sedentary.

Today the pain came back again, with a vengeance. I was shooting pool last night and it didn’t hurt then but when I awoke this morning, the muscles around my right side incisions were on fire. I’m just tired of the pain all the time, between that and the GI distress I am losing my mind! I was prescribed Colestid to help stop the frequent runs to the bathroom, might I add I haven’t even been eating more than 10% of calories from fat , but this has been to no avail. I almost wish I never had this surgery! I didn’t have gallstones but had inflammation and severe pain, now that the pain is back it makes me worry I had a Sphincter of Oddi Dysfunction but I really hope it’s just the muscles telling me to stop straining them. Any thoughts? Do I just need to give it more time? Everyone else I talk to seems to have been just fine after their surgeries.

0 likes, 25 replies

  • Posted 7 years ago

  • Looking After Your Wounds

    In many cases, dissolvable stitches will be used to close your wounds. These should start to disappear by themselves within a week or two.

    If non-dissolvable stitches were used, you’ll usually need to have them removed by a nurse at your GP surgery after 7 to 10 days. You’ll be given an appointment for this before you leave hospital.

    You’ll be told about how to look after your wound and stitches, including how long any dressings need to stay on, when they should be replaced and when you can start having showers or baths.

    There will be scars where the cuts were made in your tummy. These will probably be red and obvious at first, but should fade over time.

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    Unhealthy Fats Vs Healthy Fats

    The bodys absorption of fat is compromised after the gallbladder is removed therefore its important to limit your intake of foods that are high in omega 6 fatty acids and focus on eating more foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids.

    Omega 6 fatty acid foods to avoid include vegetable oils such as:

    • Lard or shortening

    Vegetable oils high in omega 6 fatty acids are found in processed foods as well, hidden sources of vegetable oils in foods that you should avoid include:

    • Salad dressings

    Risks Of Gallbladder Removal: Infection

    Gallbladder Complications Can Be Severe If Not Treated

    As we stated earlier, complications from gallbladder surgery arent very common at all, but the surgery itself is. That being said, its not completely without risks.

    The NHS in the UK explains theres a chance of wound infection, bile leaking into the stomach, or damage to a bile duct from the liver.

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    When To Call The Doctor

    • Your temperature is above 101°F .
    • Your surgical wounds are bleeding, red or warm to the touch or you have a thick, yellow or green drainage.
    • You have pain that is not helped with your pain medicines.
    • It is hard to breathe.
    • You have a cough that does not go away.
    • You cannot drink or eat.
    • Your skin or the white part of your eyes turns yellow.
    • Your stools are a gray color.

    Why Remove The Gallbladder explains that youll need your gallbladder removed if you have a tendency to develop painful gallstones, which are hard deposits usually made of cholesterol but can also contain calcium salts and other bodily fluids.

    These gallstones can block the bile ducts from the gallbladder or liver, which can cause infection and pain. It can also interfere with your pancreas, leading to pancreatitis.

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    Traces Of Carbon Dioxide

    During the surgery, air or carbon dioxide is pumped into the abdominal cavity. It is removed afterwards. But the left over traces of carbon dioxide can cause abdominal pain or back pain or right side pain after the surgery. The left over carbon dioxide causes bloating and uneasiness leading to stomach pain after the surgery.

    Avoid Heavy Meals Before Bed

    In this week

    Theres no specific diet that you need to follow after having your gallbladder removed, and in the days after your surgery, heavy meals might not appeal much to you, anyway.

    To avoid dealing with gas or digestive upset on top of other discomfort when you try to sleep after surgery, stick to small, light meals that are easy to digest and dont expand your stomach.

    Crackers, broth, and bananas are good options. Youll want to avoid eating a lot of fatty meats, processed foods, and alcohol to promote healthy digestion.

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    Lifestyles That Increase The Gallstones Formation

    Besides making some modifications to your diet, there are also lifestyle changes that you may take to prevent gallstone formation, which, as we have discussed, can form AFTER gallbladder surgery.

    The following practices increase the formation of gallstones:

    • Eating too much food in one meal
    • Eating too much food too frequently
    • Eating too heavy meals too early or too late in the evenings
    • Not drinking enough water
    The above practices are typical for the average individual living in western and highly industrialized countries. Avoid them and you will minimize gallstone formation.

    How Can You Tell The Difference Between Gallbladder And Liver Pain

    When you feel pain in your abdomen, it can be hard to figure out whats causing it. Liver pain can take many forms. Depending on the cause, you may feel pain in your upper right abdomen, mid-abdomen, shoulders or back.

    But your liver doesnt have any pain receptors. So if you feel pain in your liver area, its likely due to damage or inflammation of the surrounding tissues. If you are experiencing any severe pain, its best to check in with your healthcare provider to determine the cause.

    A note from Cleveland Clinic

    If youre experiencing severe pain in your upper right abdomen, you may have an issue with your gallbladder. One of the main causes of gallbladder pain is gallstones. Your healthcare provider may recommend surgery to remove your gallbladder if you consistently have gallbladder attacks. While this may sound scary, your body doesnt need your gallbladder to function. Youll feel much better once you have it removed.

    Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 06/28/2022.


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