Gallbladder surgery

March 1, 2024 Health and Wellness, Post-Hospital Care, Private Nursing

Gallbladder surgery

Surgical removal of the gallbladder, a procedure known as cholecystectomy, is highly prevalent. Situated in the upper right portion of the abdomen, the gallbladder is a small pouch-like organ responsible for storing bile—an essential fluid produced by the liver to aid in the digestion of fatty foods. Given that the gallbladder is non-essential, surgical intervention to remove it is commonly suggested in the event of any complications.

Why does one’s gallbladder need to be removed

The removal of the gallbladder through surgery is typically performed in cases where individuals experience discomfort due to gallstones. These small stones can develop in the gallbladder when there is an imbalance in the composition of bile. While gallstones may often be asymptomatic and go unnoticed, they can occasionally obstruct the flow of bile, leading to irritation of the gallbladder (acute cholecystitis) or pancreas (acute pancreatitis). Symptoms may include sudden and severe abdominal pain, nausea, and yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice). In the majority of instances, surgical removal of the gallbladder proves to be the most effective treatment.

What happens during gallbladder removal surgery

The process of gallbladder removal surgery involves two primary methods:

  • Laparoscopic (Keyhole) Cholecystectomy:

    • This technique entails making several small incisions in the abdomen. Through these, fine surgical instruments are employed to access and remove the gallbladder.
  • Open Cholecystectomy:

    • In this approach, a single larger incision is made in the abdomen to access and remove the gallbladder.

Laparoscopic cholecystectomy is the more common choice due to its advantages. Patients undergoing this method typically experience a shorter hospital stay. They have quicker recovery, and are left with smaller scars compared to the open procedure. Both procedures are conducted under general anaesthesia, ensuring that you remain asleep throughout the operation, free from any sensation of pain.

Recovering from gallbladder removal surgery

Recovery after undergoing laparoscopic gallbladder removal surgery is typically swift. Many individuals can be discharged from the hospital on the same day or the following morning. Resuming most normal activities usually takes about 2 weeks. In contrast, the recovery period for open surgery is more extended. Hospital stay may extend to 3 to 5 days, and it might take 6 to 8 weeks before returning to a normal state of well-being.

Living without a gallbladder

Living a completely normal life without a gallbladder is entirely feasible. Although your gallbladder is removed, your liver will still produce sufficient bile for the digestion of food. Rather than being stored in the gallbladder, bile continuously flows into your digestive system. While you might have received dietary recommendations before surgery, there’s typically no need to adhere to a special diet post-surgery. Instead, it’s advisable to maintain a generally healthy and balanced diet. Following the procedure, some individuals may experience temporary issues like bloating or diarrhoea, which often improve within a few weeks. If specific foods or drinks seem to trigger these symptoms, you may choose to avoid them in the future.

What to eat after gallbladder surgery

After gallbladder surgery, it’s advisable to start with a gentle and low-fat diet to allow your digestive system to adjust. Here are some general guidelines for foods to eat after gallbladder surgery:

  • Lean Proteins:

    • Choose lean protein sources such as skinless poultry, fish, tofu, and legumes.
  • Whole Grains:

    • Opt for whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and whole wheat bread or pasta.
  • Fruits and Vegetables:

    • Incorporate a variety of fruits and vegetables into your diet. These provide essential vitamins and fiber.
  • Low-Fat Dairy:

    • Choose low-fat or fat-free dairy products like yogurt and milk. Avoid full-fat dairy initially.
  • Healthy Fats:

    • Include small amounts of healthy fats like olive oil, avocado, and nuts. Gradually reintroduce these, as your tolerance allows.
  • Bland Foods:

    • Stick to bland foods initially, such as plain crackers, rice, or toast.
  • Hydration:

    • Stay well-hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Adequate hydration is crucial for recovery.
  • Smaller, Frequent Meals:

    • Instead of large meals, consider having smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day.

Avoid or limit the following in the initial postoperative period:

  • High-Fat Foods:
    • Steer clear of fried foods, fatty cuts of meat, and greasy or rich sauces.
  • Spicy Foods:
    • Spices and overly spicy foods can irritate the digestive system, so it’s best to avoid them initially.
  • Caffeine and Carbonated Beverages:
    • Limit or avoid caffeinated and carbonated drinks, as they can cause discomfort for some individuals.

Remember that individual tolerance may vary, so it’s essential to listen to your body and gradually reintroduce foods based on your comfort level. If you have specific dietary concerns or restrictions, consult with your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian for personalized guidance.

How long after gallbladder surgery can I eat normally?

You can typically resume a normal diet after gallbladder surgery within a week or so, but it’s advisable to follow your surgeon’s postoperative dietary recommendations for a smoother recovery.

Here are some examples of what to eat for breakfast after gallbladder surgery:

  • Oatmeal:
    • Opt for plain oatmeal made with water or low-fat milk. Avoid adding too much sugar or high-fat toppings.
  • Yogurt:
    • Choose plain, low-fat yogurt. Consider adding a small amount of low-fat granola or fresh berries for flavor.
  • Eggs:
    • Scrambled or boiled eggs are good protein sources. Avoid frying and consider using minimal oil or butter.
  • Whole Grain Toast:
    • Enjoy a slice of whole grain toast with a light spread of low-fat cream cheese or a small amount of nut butter.
  • Bananas:
    • Bananas are easily digestible and a good source of potassium. They can be added to yogurt or eaten on their own.
  • Smoothies:
    • Blend a smoothie with low-fat yogurt, fresh fruits (such as berries or banana), and a handful of spinach or kale.

Remember to introduce these foods gradually and pay attention to your body’s response. If you experience any discomfort or digestive issues, it may be helpful to consult with your healthcare provider for personalized advice.

How can Cavendish Homecare help?

At Cavendish Homecare, we provide post-operative care utilising the clinical skills and experience of registered nurses and carers. If you are looking for post-operative care at home please call our Homecare team to see how we can assist your recovery. Our registered nurses are able to personalise your care to suit your individual needs during your convalescence.

If you would like to enquire about our post-operative care, contact us on, 02030085210 or email us at