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How Long Will It Take to Recover after Gallbladder Surgery?

Nicole Madison
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The length of time it takes for a person to recover after gallbladder surgery often depends on the type of surgery the person underwent. Generally, minimally invasive surgery, such as laparoscopic surgeries, require less recovery time than more invasive procedures. Most people begin to feel better and have less pain only a few days after minimally invasive surgery. Often, however, a person needs to allow a recovery period of at least four to six weeks before he can fully resume all of his normal activities. Depending on how strenuous a person's job is, he can likely return to work within two weeks, but heavy lifting is usually prohibited for the first six weeks following surgery.

When a person has laparoscopic gallbladder surgery, a surgeon uses small incisions and a tiny camera for the procedure. Since his surgical instruments are inserted into these tiny incisions, the surgery is considered less invasive than the one a person would have with a traditional gallbladder surgery, which is often referred to as open surgery. As a result, the patient's recovery is typically less painful and may also prove faster than it would if he had a large incision. Fortunately, most people who undergo gallbladder surgery have laparoscopic procedures rather than the invasive surgeries that were commonly done in the past.

After gallbladder surgery, a person can usually expect to experience some pain and soreness. Some people may find moving around uncomfortable for the first few days, but this normally fades quickly. Pain relievers, either over the counter or prescription, are usually helpful for controlling discomfort in the initial days of recovery. A gallbladder surgery patient usually returns to his normal routine at home gradually, and many return to driving within just a few days. If a patient is taking narcotic drugs for pain relief, however, he may need to wait until he is no longer under their influence to resume driving.

The total recovery period after gallbladder surgery is likely to span about four to six weeks. Many patients are able to return to their jobs within about two weeks, unless their jobs involve a lot of strenuous activity. For example, an individual with an office job can likely return to his job faster than a construction worker. In fact, some people go back to work just a few days or so after surgery because their jobs are not very strenuous. Patients are usually advised to avoid heavy lifting for about six weeks, and most people can resume all of their normal activities within six weeks' time.

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Nicole Madison
By Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a TheHealthBoard writer, where she focuses on topics like homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. Her passion for knowledge is evident in the well-researched and informative articles she authors. As a mother of four, Nicole balances work with quality family time activities such as reading, camping, and beach trips.

Discussion Comments

By anon358315 — On Dec 10, 2013

Has anyone had stones in their bile duct with gall stones and if so, what is the recovery time like? Also how is the pain afterward?

By anon350230 — On Oct 03, 2013

Can I still eat fatty foods even though I had my gallbladder removed for about two weeks now? I have a lot of thoughts in mind that I would like to raise and get certain answers.

By anon350228 — On Oct 03, 2013

I had my open surgery two weeks ago. It was good and I feel better now. I can't feel any stomachache anymore. My surgeon was great. I'm still on my recovery period and no idea what's going to happen next.

By anon345812 — On Aug 22, 2013

I had my gallbladder taken out almost four weeks ago. I had been struggling with sickness, vomiting, etc., for three years previously. Since then, I still have severe back pain, am still vomiting, nauseated and I also had a soft and enlarged liver at the time of surgery.

I had and still have excruciating pain under my ribs in the front and feel full even if I haven't eaten in a couple of hours. I am tired and cannot seem to stay up later than 8 p.m. of an evening. I zonk out on the couch. Also, I don't sleep well when I am in bed. I'm tossing and turning and my back hurts and stomach hurts all the time. I'm just hoping someone has some insight about my problems now.

By anon320391 — On Feb 17, 2013

Is it normal after gallbladder surgery to feel as if something moves all the time in the area where it was removed? It has already been six weeks since I had my surgery.

By bagley79 — On Aug 09, 2012

Are you supposed to follow any special kind of diet after gallbladder surgery? Ever since I had gallstones, I have tried to avoid fatty, greasy foods, but still have problems with my gallbladder.

Some of my favorite foods are fried foods, and I wondered if these would affect me the same way if I have my gallbladder removed?

By John57 — On Aug 09, 2012

I just recently had my gallbladder removed, but this was more like an exploratory surgery because I had some other issues going on as well.

Because of this, they weren't able to do this with a laparoscope, and I had a traditional surgery. My healing after this gallbladder surgery was much more painful. I had an abdominal surgery when I was younger, and bounced back much quicker many years ago.

I planned on taking 6 weeks off work because I didn't want to rush my recovery time. I am glad I was able to take this time, as I felt like I needed all of it. Even when I did return to work, I found myself getting very tired by the end of the work day.

I think it took me at least 2-3 months after this surgery to feel like I was totally recovered.

By SarahSon — On Aug 08, 2012

@myharley-- One thing my doctor kept cautioning me about was not to over do it. I guess I didn't really know what to expect after gallbladder surgery, but I was amazed at how little pain I had.

My abdominal area was a little sore, but other than that, I felt pretty good. I am on my feet a lot at my job, so took about 4 weeks to fully recover before going back to work full time.

If I had a desk job, I can see how it would be easy to return to work much sooner than that.

By myharley — On Aug 07, 2012

Many years ago when my dad had open gallbladder surgery, the recovery time was much longer. If I remember right, he spent about a week in the hospital before he was even allowed to go home.

Once he was home after his gallbladder removal, it was a slow process getting back to normal. It takes awhile for a big incision like this to heal.

When I had to have my gallbladder removed, this was done as a laparoscopic surgery. I was out of the hospital within one day and back to work in less than a week. I had very little pain, and I felt so much better that it was easy to do too much too quickly.

Nicole Madison

Nicole Madison

Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a TheHealthBoard writer, where she focuses on topics like...
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