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 around four to 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, but 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, and your doctor may also be able to prescribe a firming agent to help

Getting back to normal

Most people are back to normal within a week or two of leaving hospital after keyhole surgery, and can get back to work and do gentle exercise.

You can usually resume strenuous exercise or work after a month. Recovery often takes 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.

In some cases dissolvable stitches are used, which do not need to be removed.

Read more information about caring for your stitches.

Page last reviewed: 15/04/2014

Next review due: 15/04/2016