Do I need to change my diet after gallbladder surgery?

Most people don't need to follow a special diet after having surgery to remove their gallbladder, as the gallbladder isn't essential for digestion.

You can usually start eating normally a few hours after your operation, although you'll probably prefer to eat small meals to start with.

You may have been advised to follow a low-fat diet for several weeks before surgery, but this doesn't need to be continued afterwards. Instead, you should aim to have a generally healthy, balanced diet (including some fats).

If you experience side effects from surgery – including indigestion, bloating, flatulence or diarrhoea – it may help to make some small adjustments to your diet, such as:

  • avoid drinks containing caffeine – such as coffee and tea
  • avoid foods that make the problems worse – such as spicy or fatty foods
  • gradually increase your intake of fibre – good sources of fibre include fresh fruit and vegetables, wholegrain rice, wholewheat pasta and bread, seeds, nuts and oats

Your GP can also recommend medication if you have diarrhoea. Read more about treating diarrhoea.

Side effects of gallbladder surgery usually only last a few weeks, although diarrhoea can be a more persistent problem for a small number of people.

If you've had other organs removed as well as your gallbladder, such as your pancreas, you may have problems digesting food. You'll be advised about any changes you need to make to your diet after surgery in these cases.

Further information:

 

Gallstones

Gallstones are the most common cause of emergency hospital admission for people with abdominal pain. About 8% of the adult population has gallstones, and 50,000 people a year have an operation to remove their gallbladder.

Media last reviewed: 14/07/2015

Next review due: 14/07/2017

Page last reviewed: 14/03/2016

Next review due: 14/03/2018