Recovering From Gallbladder Surgery: What to Know

Posted on 2022/01/12 by Laparoscopic Surgical Center of New York

You may need to undergo a gallbladder removal procedure if other treatments fail to relieve the pain and inflammation from gallstones and related problems. Gallbladder surgery is a relatively safe and commonly-done procedure. But like any other type of surgery, it comes with possible side effects and complications.

What Is Gallbladder Surgery?

Also known as cholecystectomy or laparoscopic gallbladder surgery, this procedure involves the removal of the gallbladder. The gallbladder is a pear-shaped organ located just below the liver. It sits on the upper right side of the abdomen. 

The Procedure

It carries a relatively small likelihood of complications. The procedure involves making several small incisions or cuts in the abdomen. The surgeon then inserts specialized surgical tools and a tiny video camera through the incisions. This will help him/her see inside the abdomen to remove the gallbladder. 

In some cases, the surgeon only needs to make one large incision to remove the gallbladder. This is what doctors call an open cholecystectomy. In most cases, patients can go home the same day they have their gallbladder removed. 

Why a Cholecystectomy May Be Necessary

Doctors usually perform this surgical procedure to treat gallstones and their related complications. You may need to undergo this procedure if you have:

  • Large gallbladder polyps.

  • Gallstones in your gallbladder.

  • Chronic or acute inflammation due to gallstones.

  • Pancreatitis due to gallstones.

  • Gallstones in your bile duct.

When these symptoms fail to subside after other forms of treatment or become unbearable, gallbladder removal may be necessary. 


The recovery process following gallbladder removal will vary depending on the type of surgery you underwent. However, your surgeon will give you aftercare instructions before discharging you. You will learn how to take care of the wound and prevent infection. Following the procedure, you should not shower for one or two days. 

After the procedure, you will probably be able to leave the hospital on the same day. That said, you might want a family member or friend to drive you home, or call a taxi. You also need to get enough rest and avoid performing strenuous activities for about two weeks. You should then be able to resume your normal activities after this time. 

Recovery From Open Cholecystectomy

Recovering from this procedure will take longer. You may have to remain in the hospital for several days after your operation. Furthermore, you will need to have someone drive you home when your doctor discharges you. Complete recovery and resumption of normal activities may take up to two months.

Complications and Side Effects

As stated earlier, this gallbladder removal is relatively safe. However, possible complications and side effects still exist. Some of these may include:

  • Infection.

  • Bile leakage.

  • Reaction to anesthesia.

  • Damage to blood vessels, bowel, or intestines.

  • Swelling, bleeding.

  • Damage to the bile duct.

  • Blood clots.

  • Pneumonia.

  • Heart problems.

There is also a risk of developing post-cholecystectomy syndrome. This might happen if some gallstones remain in your bile duct or bile leaks into your stomach. If you experience worsening pain, intense nausea or vomiting, ongoing diarrhea, or jaundice, you should visit your doctor as soon as possible.

To learn more about gallbladder surgery, visit the Laparoscopic Surgical Center of New York at our office in New York, New York. You can call (212) 879-6677 today to schedule an appointment.

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