Gallbladder removal - Recovery 

Recovering from a gallbladder removal  

Recovery after keyhole surgery to remove your gallbladder (laparoscopic cholecystectomy) is usually quick.

Most people are able to eat and drink and leave hospital on the same day as the surgery. In some cases, you may be advised to stay overnight and go home the next day.

After open surgery you will have to stay three to five days in hospital and your recovery time will be longer. Typically, it takes six weeks to recover fully from the effects of open surgery.

Side effects

Side effects after a cholecystectomy are usually temporary and mild. They may include:

  • Feeling sick. You may feel sick as a result of the anaesthetic or painkillers you have been given. This should pass quickly.
  • Pain in the abdomen and shoulders. This is a result of the gas used to inflate your abdomen and should pass after a couple of days. Painkillers can be taken to relieve any pain or discomfort.
  • Diarrhoea. This can come from bile irritating your digestive system. Eating high-fibre food such as brown rice and wholemeal bread will help to firm up your stools. Your doctor may also be able to prescribe a firming agent to help.

Getting back to normal

After leaving hospital after keyhole surgery, most people are back to normal, including working and doing gentle exercise, within 7–10 days. This may take longer after open surgery.

Driving

You can start driving again when you can do an emergency stop without any discomfort. Some insurance companies do not insure drivers for a number of weeks after surgery, so it is best to check what your policy says before starting to drive.

Wounds

If you had open surgery your stitches may need to be removed afterwards. You will be given an appointment for this before you leave hospital.


Page last reviewed: 09/02/2012

Next review due: 09/02/2014

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Comments

The 33 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Clarabo52 said on 13 April 2014

I had gallstones for over a year, my GP told me the operation would be horrendous, so he advised a good diet. I only had 2 attacks since, within a week of each other, the last the worst. Turns out my gall bladder was infected and inflamed. I was rushed to hospital with the pain, and was given pain relief instantly. After 3 days of IV antibiotics, they operated, and I cannot believe my GP put my off this. It went smoothly, pain controlled along the way. I advise sleeping sitting up the first night to avoid the shoulder pain. Other than that, I was on my feet about 6 hours after the op, spent one night in hospital a a precaution, but got out the next morning. Scars are small, only needed tramadol and paracetamol for 4 or 5 days, driving I left for 2weeks, as they advise when you feel up to it. No serious lifting for 3 months and no flying for 2 months, but otherwise managing fine. Best thing I've ever had done, can eat anything now. Get it done if you need it and don't look back!

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CarolineCJ said on 12 April 2014

Female 41 years old had my first attack of gall bladder problems that I am aware of on 28th December, I had my gall bladder removed on Friday 4th April.

Went down to surgery 9.10 came out of recovery room 4.35 (think that was more to them trying to find a bed!) I was discharged 9.15pm!

I drove on Sunday 6th April & back to work Monday 7th April.

The only problems I had was the constipation, really painful & bruised the pain felt like pulled muscle in stomach making getting comfy or turning over in bed almost impossible, lots of pillows helped, I've not slept properly due to uncomfy and in pain for a week. The stitches & pulling of stitches is uncomfy otherwise all went well.

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Loula125 said on 05 April 2014

I had my gallbladder removed last Saturday by keyhole, I feel great, I was out walking on Sunday and driving by Tuesday. The worst pain for me was the trapped gas in my shoulder but painkillers helped. I stumbled across this site the night before my surgery and after reading the comments I was really anxious about the surgery, I understand everyone heals at different rates but I do think if your are going to have this done don't take too much notice of how everyone else has felt

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jo_ofa said on 23 March 2014

I have just had my gb removed 2 days ago after suffering for 3 years with random attacks..each more horrific than the last. I followed these forums for advice whilst deciding on whether to have the operation or not. I found that this particular op is very underestimated and a lot more painful that I expected, keyhole surgery sounds almost non evasive and I feel the complete opposite I'm so sore around my belly button. I'm sure I'll be glad I had it done after a week or so but at the minute I feel awful :(

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Davies dd said on 17 March 2014

hi, I had keyhole surgery to remove my gall bladder on 13 th march. After surgery I had to stay in hospital as I had a drain.
Surgeon said I had gall stones, the gall bladder was infected ( again ). And it had adhered itself to my liver and diaphragm, the liver and diaphragm also have lesions on.

Since the op the gall bladder pain and problems have gone. The post op pain is manageable. I have 3 keyhole wounds and one drain wound.

I have been constipated ever since the op and have resorted to suppositories.
I was a little concerned about the adherement and lesions on liver and diaphragm , and now the constipation .

Any one else had these issues or problems.
Be greatfulmof your comments.
Best wishes daviesd

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john_77 said on 27 February 2014

36 year old (otherwise healthy) male had gall bladder removed by open surgery on 14th Feb at York District Hospital. Was admitted to hospital about a week earlier with severe abdominal pain. During the week before my op I was given a course of antibiotics and had a ultrasound scan and MRI scan. Diagnosis was acute cholecystitis which was not settling down with the antibiotics. During this time I had become quite jaundice and therefore it was decided to operate without delay. The intention had been to perform the surgery by keyhole but there were apparently complications and so it was converted to open surgery. Spent 4 nights in hospital after surgery but the pain was not too bad - was up and about the following day. Been told to have a minimum of 4 weeks off work but to be honest I've felt generally fine after the first week (this week been able to walk my daughter to school). Main side effects were constipation for the first 4 days after surgery followed by about another 4 days of diarrhea which was a bit of a concern at first having read various scare stories on the internet but this seems to have settled down now and apart from a little stiffness getting out of bed etc I'm feeling pretty good.
Was very lucky to have an excellent consultant surgeon who I had full confidence in and the nursing staff were also very good if a little stretched. Can't really fault the service I received although the hospital catering was awful but that's a different story!

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TheCrooner said on 09 February 2014

64 year old male. Had gallbladder removed 4th February 2014 at Heartlands Hospital, Birmingham (Day Surgery Unit). Checked in at 8am but not operated on until 4pm, so suffered from lack of food and water. Staff were excellent and caring though and I was able to sit with my wife in waiting lounge until called. Operation went very well, but as I developed a rash as a reaction to painkillers, I was kept in hospital overnight. I went home next day and only required paracetamol to control mild pain in abdomen. No shoulder pain or nausea at all. Eating nearly back to normal. Biggest problem for me has been constipation for 4 days. Very painful and I was concerned that I may pull on "stitches" (adhesive). Resorted to glycerol suppositories and they did the trick. Bruises around incisions came out after four days and slight soreness, but I feel nearly back to normal already, which is remarkable. I followed the pre-op diet and other advice that was given and I believe that if you're sensible, you should minimise any post-op issues. Many thanks to my surgeon and anaesthetist, plus the nursing staff at Heartlands.

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itsmealex said on 30 January 2014

24yr old male from Niagara falls Canada. Had my gallbladder surgery today on January 29 2014, worse pain I ever felt. Equal to the attacks. Shoulder pain . feels broken and on fire. ribs feel broken and inflamed. I've broken over 100 bones in my life time from fooling around to just plane accidental. I'm in so much pain it doesn't feel normal. My wife is 21. She had hers dome 7 days prior to mine. She says her pain wasn't near mine. Bottom line wish this upon no one including my worst enemy.

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marrin said on 18 January 2014

Had my gallbladder out on the 7th of jan 2014. after being on the waiting list for 6 months, only got it rushed through as it was inflamed and I ended up in A&E, Please if you suffer awful pain go to the hospital I was stupid and put up with the pain for far to long, burning my stomach and back with hot water bottles and taking every pain killers all the time.
I was in surgery for 3 hours key hole as i had to have division of adhesions as well. 10 day on I feel great, I still get pain round my stomach which can get very sore, but nothing compared to the pain I put up with.
Has anybody else suffered pain in the tummy area and more so at night, most people say its in the shoulder but mine has been fine. could it be internal bruising?
Post op care was awful just go told to go home, no information on what to expect, or how long to take off work. My doctor gave me a sick note after a phone call for four weeks. Just hope the pain i feel is normal.

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Lelhello said on 24 October 2013

I am 63 female and had gb removed 2 weeks ago. During MRI to evaluate inflammation of pancreas, multiple kidney cysts discovered. My on going concern apart from cysts is the swelling and tenderness in the upper part of the abdomen. Feels like a huge fluid sack which appears to be growing. So off to the doctor tomorrow.... If I can get an appointment! Our system is that you have to ring at 8am and book on the day, of course you can never get through and when you do the appointments are all gone.
:(

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joyceello said on 09 October 2013

Im going to have gall bladder out and was wondering if anyone knows when I can fly afterwards

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mariesnotes said on 05 October 2013

I found out that i had a gallstone lodged in the cystic duct in July and was told that I had to have my gallbladder removed .... I was really scared even after having many operations beforehand. I had keyhole surgery to remove my gallbladder 11 days ago at the Nottingham Woodthorpe Hospital. I went in at 11am, was taken to theatre at 4pm and was back in my room at 6pm. At around 8pm I ate a light meal and had a drink which was very much appreciated as I hadn't eaten since the night before (doctors orders). I felt very bloated and sore but NO pain at all. I had no pain in my shoulders as some people get. I had an overnight stay in hospital due to the lateness of my op. The care and treatment by staff was BRILLIANT. I went home the next day. I still took a few pain killers to ease the soreness/discomfort from the wounds. I didn't go to the toilet for 4 days after my op. I rang my GP and he said this was normal. I have been given 4 weeks off work due to the type of job I do. I am still taking things easy no heavy lifting etc. I can now eat & drink without feeling any ill effects (sickness & pain) but all in all I'm so glad that I had it done. QUOTE "The gallbladder is an organ that really is surplus to requirements in our bodies. It can sometimes cause more harm than good" UNQUOTE. This is what my doctor told me.

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Nikki696 said on 06 August 2013

I had my gall bladder removed 5th august via keyhole and i couldnt of asked for better care from ipswich hospital! I went in at 12pm went to theatre at 2.30pm and was back on the ward by 4pm i have hardly any pain only round my belly button have managed to eat a little and can get around slowly but fine! No stitches as wounds were glued and so far no after effects! Had slight pain in right shoulder but was given oramoph for it and since gently movin it this has passed i was told due to co2 used to inflate my stomach i could get this! But i would urgh anyone facing this problem get it operated on b4 u get seriously ill! I also got to keep my gallstones! Apart from being a bit sore i feel loads better than i did before

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benthecaravaner said on 07 July 2013

Had my gb removed two weeks ago . Things are nearly back to normal. I had pain in my r shoulder for a couple of days. Was constipated for about a week, thankfully not so now. Just wondering how long the dressings will take to come away. They look like reinforced clingfilm. Thankyou rde devon for excellent care.

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emmdan said on 15 June 2013

hi i had my gall bladder removed at nmgh on 13th june and so glad i have . thankyou so much the surgeon and his team. a special thankyou to the staff of day services for being with me through it xxx i am sore but on the road to recovery thank god xx

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Brambram said on 30 May 2013

Had gallbladder removed 6 days ago and i feel practically normal.

I was terrified of having my gall bladder removed, but after after about 10 episodes of vomiting and severe abdominal pain all within 4 months, i decided that it had to be done.
Last Thursday 23rd May, I went to Milton Keynes hospital and the staff were great. Headed to surgery at about 10am and within 10-15 minutes after they put some kind of drip in the back of my hand, I was out. Woke up at 11:30am in recovery room And was told everything was finished and surgery was successful! they showed me some tiny stones in a bottle which I kept (not sure why). They monitored me for a while, then wheeled me to the the day surgery ward around noon...they offered me a sandwich and some tea. Fell asleep and woke up around 4pm, then went home.
I had four holes in my abdomin which they had glued up - no stitches.
At home I had some shoulder pain and a sore throat - I am told this is from a tube that was inserted through my mouth, and shoulder pain to be expected from gas used inside me. I ate a light meal and had some slight indigestion. Took pain killers and went to sleep that night - felt a bit tired.
Woke up next morning and felt fine - just slight shoulder ache and tiredness. It's been a week now and the wounds have healed somewhat and I feel fine...back to work tomorrow.

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gallless said on 09 July 2012

I had my gall bladder removed by keyhole at Grimsby Princess Diana Day surgery unit on 5th July. Went to theatre at 9.15am woke up in recovery around 11am. Back home at 4.30 same day.four small cuts slight discomfort after from trapped wind from the CO2 they use to make more room in abdomen. no probs weeing or pooing just a little sore accross tummy, main issue is sore uvula dangly thing back of throut appaently this is caused by air/gas tube inserted down throut should recover soon I am told.just eating soft food untill it gets better. only sick a few times due to general anesthetic ok after a nights sleep. took wound covering off after 2 days so i could shower all looks good wound clips due out after ten days,just taking it easy doing some short walks each day signed off work for 2 weeks, thanks to all at Grimsby three members of staff esp.

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kimmie25 said on 06 May 2012

after 5yrs of excrucial pain and not knowin what was wrong with me i eventually got answers gallstones although i doubted this seen as i was given all diferent reasons and medication for different things hallelujah i had my op on 1st may 12 an yes it was gallstones i now have no galbladder i got key hole surgery at 9am bk on ward by 11.45 no an feeling great on day 6 of recovestill no pain a bit of discomfert but nowt to moan about didnt need any pain meds on discharge was so worryin bout this opo as it my 1st but thot i gotta be better than sleepin in bath for 15hrs at a time toppn it up with hot water im so glad i did this op my life is gettin bk on track finally s i have 2 young girls to look after my surgeon was amazin nurses great to, i think you need to look around for a very good surgeon if anything id reccomend this op to anyone who suffern the 5yr of hell i did id rather be in labour than suffer that pain also bowels moved not a prob afterwards good luck

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DILKOOSH said on 22 April 2012

Had laproscopic cholecystectomy at Derriford hospital on 16 April 2012. Entered hospital at 8.00am and discharged 4.00pm. Treated wonderfully by all from start to finish. The puncture hole between my ribs is still quite sore to the touch. The others are fine. Slight stomach ache probably due to bile. No difficulty lying down or sitting up. Side effects itchy face, and mouth dry as dust for a couple of days. Looking forward to summer and no more pain from gallstones.

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lesjay18 said on 16 April 2012

I had key hole surgery to remove my gall bladder on Sat 14th of April at roughly 10am, woke up around half one, felt fine, had a cup of tea and a couple of biscuits, dozed a bit more and was dishcharged at 6pm.
A lttle awkward sleeping on my back as i usually sleep on my side, but that will get better. I have had no horrible after effects, i'm a little sore, but that is to be expected. Considering i was petrified about this operation i can only say that it was no where near as bad as i was expecting, the thought that i will get no more horrible unbearable pains in my stomach more than makes up for the little discomfort i now have. I would like to thank all the staff at Ashtead Hospital in surrey, they were brilliant from start to finish, the surgeon explained everything in detail and put my mind at rest, and their after care was second to none.

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Sherlockholmes said on 15 April 2012

Had Gall Bladder removed 11 April 2012. Surgery first thing, 9.30am. Came round about 3pm - very drowsy and nauseous. This from the GA. Had more anti - nausea drugs and this helped. Could have stayed in hospital overnight but wanted to get home. Once I could get out of the bed myself, go for a wee and eat, they let me out. Home by 9pm. Given pain relief and was advised to take regularly for the first few days - paracetamol, Dichlorohydeine and Diclofenec and then as and when. It is day 4 after the surgery, no real need for loads of pain relief, sitting up, coughing, laughing painful for the first 2 days, by day 3 felt much better. Pain in right shoulder as advised by the Consultant - gone now, due to gas reabsorption. Breathing a bit of a struggle - for the first 2 days, I am mildly asthmatic, so took inhalers - all fine now. Generally wake up refreshed and able, but by lunchtime, early afternoon need a nap to keep me going - GA still wearing off. No lifting for 2 weeks - this is imperative for quick recovery. Down side - major diarrhoea though!! Looked up stuff on line says this is a real side effect due to more bile in the small intestine. Hopefully, should go away after a few days, but can last. A bit worried that it amy well last with me. Anyway, it is a side effect of this surgery and one to be aware of. High fibre diet and low fat, little and often it seems too. Difficult when you feel nauseous and bloated. Urgency horrible too.

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herladyship said on 10 January 2012

Had this procedure on 6th January 2012 (private hospital). The first few hours afterwards were very uncomfortable as it hurt to breathe deeply and I couldn't find a comfortable position to sit or lie in. Some nausea and dizziness but I think this was due to lack of nourishment - apple juice helped enormously. Stayed overnight, small amount of eggs and toast for breakfast. No problems with eating (light diet), drinking or going to the loo, although it took a few days for my bowels to get going! Bruised and tender around the holes in my belly and hard to get into and out of bed/chairs for the first few days. Pleasantly surprised by how rapidly the body recovers.

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a bingo said on 09 January 2012

On 2nd Jan 2012 rushed in with abdo pain on 3rd had gall bladder removed was sent home that night.
Back to work (office based on 5th) Pain across tummy still bad other than that all ok. today being the 9th still sore and stiff so not driving but otherwise am thinking best thing done,
Still a little concerned about diet and sicky feeling!

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H2 said on 31 October 2011

it's only 6 days since I had my laparoscopic cholecystectomy and I only had mild discomfort until yesterday. I seem to have developed what I think is neuralgia across my abdomen...it hurts at the slightest touch. there's no redness or heat and most of the swelling has gone so I'm sure there's no infection. there is slight bruising around my wounds. I've been taking paracetamol and ibruprofen but they aren't having much effect on the neuralgia. has anyone else experienced this? if so, how long did it last and how did you manage it?

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WorryTooMuch said on 18 September 2011

Had my gallbladder out on Fri 16th Sept at Doncaster Royal Infirmary. They were so good, and i felt fully informed about everything. It was my 1st ever operation so i was a total wreck going into the theatre but the anaesthetist put me to sleep no probs (i actually woke up thinking i was at home!) stayed overnight as I was in agony when I tried to move any part of my torso, but came home yest afternoon. I was really nervous about taking a shower last night in fear of what lay beneath the 4 plasters on my tummy, but when I finally plucked up the courage to take them off it wasn't that bad - only 4 little cuts with bright blue stiches in them. Quite funky really, even if my far right one was slightly inverted (bleugh, i have a hole where my g/b once was!) Only problem lurking now is the small issue of bowel movements. I suffer chronically from anal fissures (reoccuring and v painful tears) so it's usually a feat in itself going to the loo on a normal day, let alone after a boat load of anaesthetic, paracetemol & oxygen, all aiding in drying me out! Been 3 days since went to the loo last (weeing is no problem) so slightly concerned about 1) the pain it will endevour, 2) the fear of writhing so much i cause injury to myself or tear the stitches and 3) i have tried a little bit but can't seem to get the backside muscles to do the right thing! We have a paramedic in the family who says it'll start doing its thing soon enough, but has anyone else suffered from toilet-issues after this operation?

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Jentoarr said on 08 June 2011

Was admitted to Crosshouse unexpectedly on 25 May and had laparoscopic cholecystectomy at around 4pm that day. Back on the ward by 6.30 with tea and toast and visitor by 7! Left hospital at 10.30 following morning but would have been sooner if my lift could have come earlier. This operation has been a real success and I was back in the office (allbeit temporarily) on the 27th. I've had very little discomfort, only a bit of bruising around the wound sites and no problems with passing urine or moving bowels. The only side effect I've really noticed is that I am a bit like a puppy; I wake up in the morning full of beans but then suddenly run out of steam and need a wee nap. Everyone at the day surgery unit was efficient, caring and kind. Can't give them high enough praise. Planning on being back at work tomorrow which will be two weeks after the procedure. My mother had a cholecystectomy back in the day and had the full Frankenstein scar right down her tummy; she was in hospital for a couple of weeks and it took her a long time to recover. I've got 5 wee puncture marks and job done and dusted in two weeks. Grand.

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A Success Case said on 23 May 2011

I had my operation 4 days ago and am amazed how well I have recovered so far.
The surgery took place at 4pm and by 6pm I was back on the ward ready for visiting time. I felt drowsy for 3 or so hours but actually felt hungry and requested a snack by 10pm. A yoghurt and tiny bite of a chicken sandwich washed down with apple juice was enough but went down well with no nausea. Passing water needed a little effort, probably due to the settling of the internal organs post surgery, however, not painful other than bending to sit on the loo.
Mild pain killers taken for a couple of days kept the pain at bay. Worst things is the gas left me bloated and restricted bending and mobilty for a couple of days ( but not painful or that bad really). Getting on and off the bed - very tricky for 2 days. Lots of propping up with pillows required. Slightly bruised around the entry sites now, 4 days later, but all healing well.
Previous symptoms caused by a dodgy gall bladder now gone. Hopefully this feeling of well being persists. The surgeon said the anasthetic stays in the system 4-6 weeks causing exhaustion but advised being signed off work for only 2 weeks - but I think I may need an extra week because of the pressure and stress of my work load may have a negative effect on long term recovery - we'll see.

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Jo anna said on 13 May 2011

I had this surgery on the 9th May 2011. I came home on the 10th May. I went to theatre at 11am and was on the ward at 6pm the actual op took about 90 minutes. I was in recovery and on oxygen. I had oxygen until 10.30pm. I just take longer to wake up I guess! The hardest part is the discomfort in the tummy muscles, laughing, coughing etc. Getting from sitting to lying and vice versa is a bit difficult. The other thing is the bloating, after 3 days of miniscule amounts of food I feel as though I have had about 6 courses! Great way to loose weight?
Generally I feel positive about the surgery and have lost that aweful nausea I had all the time. No bile coming into my throat every morning after sleeping is the best too. I found drinking water helped to clear the system, no loose stools though. Fresh air helped too to clear the body of anethestic. Passing urine was tricky at first but I think it was lack of fluid in the body that did that ,together with the lack of sensation to wee, due to the organs being moved, not sure but I needed to concentrate to be able to go! Not an issue now! I still feel tired but have been sensible and retired to bed for 2 to 3 hours each afternoon and been able to function until about 9pm when sleep calls again. I think thats ok, passed worrying now just want to get better and feel that I have listened to my body and am doing what it tells me to. All the best to those going through the same thing, it is worth it in the end.

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k tivey said on 24 November 2010

i had my gall bladder out by key hole on thursday 18th november, waking up from the op i was in alot of pain and it was really painfull to move around i stayed in over night and was aloud to go home the next day with painkillers i had alot of pain in my shoulders and ribs this went after a few days. i am on day 6 of recovary now and feel much better i am looking forward to getting back to work and having a normal diet.

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sorebutgettingbetter said on 03 September 2010

I had mine out on Tuesday 01/09/10 and yes it is extremely sore to try and sit up. My problem was trying to stay awake. I went down at 10am and back up at 2pm but even at 8 I was still zanked out.
I was on Oxygen longer than I thought (the next morning) and even now Friday, my breathing still doesn't feel right.

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sorebutgettingbetter said on 03 September 2010

I had mine out on Tuesday 01/09/10 and yes it is extremely sore to try and sit up. My problem was trying to stay awake. I went down at 10am and back up at 2pm but even at 8 I was still zanked out.
I was on Oxygen longer than I thought (the next morning) and even now Friday, my breathing still doesn't feel right.

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Gillyb62 said on 08 August 2010

I am having my gallbladder removed by keyhole surgery on Friday 13th August. This is only 2 weeks 5 days before I am due to fly to Cyprus on holiday. I am also holidaying alone.

Am I going to be fit to fly I wonder?!

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wozwozzick69 said on 06 August 2010

I had my laparoscopic cholecystectomy done on Tuesday 3rd August 2010. The op ran from 10am to 11:40am and I awoke at 12pm with quite a bit of discomfort.

The hardest thing is sitting up when Im in a laying position..thats impossible..I need help! lol Im able to do most things with discomfort, but coughing, laughing, sitting up (and wiping yourself after peeing) is REALLY difficult.

Its now Friday 6th August...I can sit up by myself today but Im still really sore and tired. You definitely need someone with you for a MINIMUM of 3 days after you come out of the hospital

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Recovering from an operation

Advice on getting back to normal after surgery