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Gallbladder Surgery Recovery Time

Updated on November 8, 2016
Gallbladder surgery recovery time is not the same for everyone
Gallbladder surgery recovery time is not the same for everyone | Source

Gallbladder surgery used to be a major undertaken. Today, thanks to advances in science, we can have safer and less invasive surgeries. For the patient, this means lesser 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.

Ever heard of the Robotic Gallbladder Removal Surgery aka Robotic Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy? Here, the surgeon uses a robot to perform the operation.

Robotic 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.

During Gallbladder Surgery

Here are some things they would do to you during surgery:

A few tiny incisions, usually 3 or 4 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 he is doing. Surgical instruments including a camera will be inserted into your abdomen through the incisions.

Incisions dressed after the surgery
Incisions dressed after the surgery | Source

Your surgeon will use the camera to see your 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.

When the operation is performed laparoscopically, you are in and out of the hospital on the same day. However, issues with pain management may cause you to spend the night in the hospital.

Dr Colin Elton's guide

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 2-3 day.

Pain after gallbladder surgery

Does it hurt? It is not as bad as open surgery but those who’ve had their gallbladder removed would agree that is does absolutely 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. These could be a few days of struggle. During this time, it certainly wouldn’t be fun to:

  • Cough
  • Sneeze
  • Walk
  • Get in/out of bed
  • Get on/off the couch
  • Lay on your side

There’s more!

You would probably have sore throat as a result of the intubation– a tube forced down your throat during the operation.

Blame the bloating you may have 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 about a couple of days for the gas to walk 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.

It is important to note that not everybody is the same. What you experience may not be an exact match of what I’ve just described. If you would like to add something, please feel free to do so in the comment section below.

Gallbladder surgery recovery time

According to the Center for Pancreas and Biliary Disease, you will probably be able to resume normal activities within a week, so most people would make full recovery after 7 to 10 days.

You may return to work if your work 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 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 would let you know.


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.


Have you had your gallbladder removed?

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For those who’ve had their gallbladder removed, the pain from your surgery was:

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Problems after gallbladder removal surgery

Just like any other surgery, gallbladder surgery comes with a set of risks.

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 infection occurs in 1 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.

Another uncommon problem is that the pain persists after surgery. 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.

Constipation is a common problem after gallbladder surgery. Some pain killers are known to cause constipation. Take advice from your doctor. He will probably give you a stool softener to help ease the constipation.

A common long term complication is diarrhea and a sense of urgency after a fatty meal. 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; he might have some interesting information for you.

Why don’t you share you experience with us in the comment section?



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    • profile image

      Sherry 5 months ago

      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.

    • profile image

      Sue Carroll 11 months ago

      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.

    • profile image

      Mike H 14 months ago

      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.

    • profile image

      forben 2 years ago

      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 !

    • ladyguitarpicker profile image

      stella vadakin 2 years ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

      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

    • profile image

      Jessica 2 years ago

      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 profile image

      Bill Cockrell 3 years ago

      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.

    • profile image

      Vera J. 3 years ago

      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.

    • profile image

      Steven 3 years ago

      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.

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 3 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      My dad had a gallbladder surgery several years back. the recovery period was uncomfortable for him.