Gallbladder Removal Surgery

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When I found out that I needed to have gallbladder removal surgery, I didn’t know anyone that had gone through this to talk to. I scoured the internet to see if anyone had shared their stories from start to finish. I didn’t find much so I wanted to put this together to share my experience starting from the first gallbladder attack to now living with one less organ.


outpatient gallbladder removal surgery

How It Started

It was New Years Eve 2018 and I went out for a barbecue lunch with some friends. If you live in Austin, you know the barbecue here is second to none so we went all out and got the Texas Trinity of ribs, brisket, and sausage. It was moist, meaty, and delicious. However, after that meal I felt bloated and my stomach gurgled for the rest of the day.

The next morning I woke up with an achy back and figured I probably just slept in a weird position. As the day went on the pain became stronger and more apparent in my abdominal region. At this point it felt like cramps but like the worst cramps I’ve ever had in my life. It was like someone kicked me in the stomach and twisted my insides. The pain was so strong that I could not function. I was curled up in a ball on my bed with all the lights off, in silence. Nothing helped. It was the weekend so I figured I would try to sleep it off and go to my doctor on Monday if the pain continued.

I woke up Monday morning feeling perfectly normal like nothing ever happened. Fast forward to Wednesday, I woke up at 4AM with that same initial achy back pain except this time it was worse. As time passed the pain similarly moved to my abdomen. I couldn’t go back to sleep so naturally I WebMD’d all my symptoms and started palpating my stomach. The pain was the strongest in the upper right quadrant.

The Diagnosis

I made a doctors appointment that day. Straightaway my doctor said “it’s your gallbladder” and scheduled me for an ultrasound to confirm. The ultrasound showed that I had sludgy bile and multiple immobile gallstones. The two episodes of pain I had were gallbladder attacks. My doctor recommended gallbladder removal surgery (cholecystectomy) because it’s minimally invasive, a common procedure, and prevents future attacks or rupture. She also informed me that surgery was not necessary but I would be more susceptible to unpredictable repeat attacks and/or rupture.

I didn’t know anyone who had gone through this that I could talk to so I went home and did a lot of searching through Google and Reddit. I wanted to read other people’s experiences with gallbladder attacks and surgery. Ultimately I knew I never wanted to experience that pain again so I chose surgery. My gallbladder removal surgery was two weeks away from the date of diagnosis. During this time, I didn’t have any more attacks but my stomach felt sensitive and extremely bloated. I put myself on a pretty strict low-fat/low-spice diet per my doctor’s recommendation. I ate lean meats, veggies, and drank lots of golden milk, which I really believed helped to soothe my stomach.


RELATED RECIPES:
Golden Milk Latte
Golden Milk Paste

The Surgery

The gallbladder removal surgery was laparoscopic, minimally invasive, and an outpatient procedure. I did have to go under anesthesia and was put on a ventilator. I was asleep the entire time and didn’t feel a thing. The surgeon made four half inch incisions in my stomach to place the scope and remove the gallbladder. Everything went smoothly and I even got a photo of my gallbladder and its contents as a souvenir. Apparently I had a lot of stones for someone my age. I was in and out within a few hours. My fiancé drove me home, I took some pain meds, and slept for most of the day.

The Recovery

The first two days after surgery were the worse. I was extremely sore and my throat was scratchy from the ventilator. A natural reaction would be to cough but that caused immense pain to my stomach. It was just an endless cycle of discomfort. Additionally, it was difficult to go from standing to sitting to laying down so I was pretty dependent on my fiancé. After those two days I was able to move by myself although it was still difficult. After one week I was able to walk slowly and return to work. Around the two week mark was when I began to feel normal again.

Life without a Gallbladder

As I am writing this, I have been without my gallbladder for roughly a year and a half. In the short term I had to be careful with spicy and fatty foods. I slowly integrated them back into my diet so my body could learn how to digest foods without a gallbladder. In the long term I essentially have irritable bowel syndrome and a lot of times have to go to the bathroom within minutes of eating. Certain foods trigger it more than others such as those with high fat or spice content like pizza. This is a common side effect. For some it goes away for others it doesn’t. Mine hasn’t gone away yet but my doctor gave me options to manage it: diet or medication.

The FODMAP diet has been shown to be pretty helpful for those with IBS. Personally, I find it too restrictive and difficult to commit to 100%. In terms of medication, my doctor prescribed low dose amitriptyline that can be taken once a day regularly or as needed. I prefer natural remedies whenever possible so I do not take the medication on a regular basis. The only time I use the medication is when I am traveling since finding a bathroom is not always reliable. Overall I am still able to eat whatever I want to eat, do whatever I want to do, but I also got to go when I got to go. I also have visible scars from the incision but they’re pretty small and I think they’re kind of cool!

more info about gallbladder removal surgery

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76 thoughts on “Gallbladder Removal Surgery”

  • Your story is so inspiring thank you for sharing for someone who has never had a surgery in their life and now possibly may need a gallbladder surgery I can take a deep breathe and rest a bit more easy getting a glimpse of what to expect

    • Sorry for the late response, I took a little break from the blog but I’m so glad you’ve found this helpful! It’s been almost 2 years since my surgery and 100% would choose to do it again. Life without a gallbladder has been the same since writing this post. Wishing you all the best whether or not you got the surgery!

    • I have the same issues as you did. I have lost 24lbs since my surgery. I watch what I eat and very cautious about fat grams 3 or less. I need to lose but not this way. The pain doesn’t hit me until a hour after I eat

    • I just had my gallbladder removed 5 days ago. I refused to take any pain medication for it as well. That was interesting. Tested my levels of pain tolerance. Since I have been only able to eat broth and jello, I have been so dizzy and lightheaded. Do you have any suggestions on what I could try next since I am on day 5 post op ?

  • Thank you for sharing your story! I also have gallstones and considering surgery but I’m terrified. I never had surgery before and I’m afraid of how my life is going to change after it. Reading your story has given me a little comfort. Thankyou for this.

    • No problem, I definitely have been in your shoes! I’m almost 2 years post-surgery now and although I still have IBS, I don’t have excruciating gallbladder pain which is a huge win in my book! Best of luck if you do decide to get surgery and hope you feel better soon!

  • Thank you so much for your post. I am in a hospital bed at this very moment, recovering from an emergency gallbladder removal surgery. It’s nice to hear stories from people who have been there. 😊

  • Omg!!! This is exactly what happened to me except when I was going to the drs for pain they kept telling me I had gerd! After I changed my diet and took medications to help with gerd and still got the attacks iknew it was something else and the drs wouldn’t listen until I ended up in the ER twice and it wasn’t until the second Er visit that they finally did blood tests and ultrasound and found that I had a Crap ton of gallstones and were extremely inflamed!! I had emergency surgery yesterday and on my second day of recovery and going thru everything you did! I hope this gets so much better and your story made me feel better because I experienced everything you did to a T!

  • Hello there,
    First night home from emergency surgery and now looking up everything I can since I have some energy. Today has been awful! I wish I had the hospital bed, because getting up is such a killer movement!! 2 things – possible IBS in the future?? And wondering if greasy foods like a burger or pizza possible and you just have to as accept the consequences? Thanks great info.

    • Hi Barbara! The first few days are a bit rough, but it will get better! I recommend introducing fats back into your diet slowly immediately after surgery so your body can get used to it. In the longer term, I personally still experience IBS that is more triggered by greasy foods. But because I don’t feel any pain, I still eat those foods and just accept the consequences. However some people don’t experience this at all or it is just a temporary side affect. Best of luck with your recovery!

    • I’ve found it a daily struggle. Some days are great, some days not. Something that affected me last week doesn’t this week. I ended up taking a powder recommended by my gastroenterologist that has been life changing. Cholesterol mine. Also helps reduce high cholesterol

  • I thank you for allowing everyone to be able to read your experience with Before and after your surgery, I also have been going through the same thing just not the surgery, I have been holding on it and sure that a lot of others have also because I guess nervous about it , but after reading your story made me a little more comfortable. I’m glad everything went well for you and your feeling better. Thank you

    • Happy to share, I’m glad this post was able to bring you a little comfort. Hope you are feeling at ease with your gallbladder situation!

    • I am scheduled for Gall Bladder removal in few weeks .I have read so many horrid stories that it completely changes ur life. Weight gain, it’s and others report liver and thyroid issues. I really want to cancel it and try flushing it naturally. I don’t have much pain ..my doctor said the stone are tint but surgeon of course said u need it. Why isn’t there a way to flush it out without removing gall bladder. That’s where we digest food. And ibs is not something u want to continue to suffer with after. Some reported colitis issues. The risks are so high.. I understand everyone is different but I just don’t want to suffer after. Reflux and anxiety are present already I’m just so scared. 😩

      • Yes everyone is different with how their bodies will react. For me the only issue I have afterwards is IBS – it can be annoying but manageable. My doctor presented it to me as I can either keep it in, try a low fat diet, but also risk having more gallbladder attacks which could possibly turn into an emergent situation where it ruptures. I had 2 attacks, several stones that weren’t tiny, and sludgy bile so I opted to get it removed and do not regret my decision. I would say I still have a pretty good quality of life and am not suffering. Maybe you could get a second opinion from another doctor and make a pro/con list based on the severity of your stones. Wishing you luck on making the decision that is best for you!

  • I lived with the gallbladder attacks for a year because of Covid delaying non essential surgery (NHS is wonderful but waiting lists are looooong) My gallstones ended up causing pancreatitis and so was rushed in
    The surgery went a little bit wrong- apparently my gallbladder was fused and the surgeon nicked an artery trying to remove it. Ended up with a week in hospital with a wound drain.
    But anything not to have the gallbladder attacks again…I’ve just eaten cheese for the first time in a year and it was heavenly!
    Thank you for sharing your experience

  • Hi I’m planning to have surgery on Wednesday and I’ve been reading patients gaining weight 6 months after surgery. Have you noticed any weight gain or extra belly fat? I’m so worried my job depends on my body and I don’t want to loose all my hard work.

    • Hi Brianna, I personally did not experience any weight gain that was out of the norm for me. Wish you the best of luck with surgery and a smooth recovery!

    • I had gall bladder surgery 3 yrs ago. I had no problems, everything went smooth. I always weighed 100 lbs, since my surgery I have gained 40lbs. I have tired everything to lose but so far no luck. If anyone has the same problem please let me know. My doctor said it was my age. I was 66 yrs old. I eat less now but no results…

  • Just had gallbladder surgery…I, too, had many bad attacks since December. Originally thought it was my appendix but the dr said from the CT scan I had ovarian cysts and one must have popped. Unfortunately I kept having attacks but it slid up to my upper right abdomen. Gyno said that’s not his department and I scheduled with gallbladder dr. Scheduled surgery and on the mend today, Saturday. Had the surgery Wednesday afternoon. Feeling pretty good. Haven’t really eaten but finally had a bowel movement. The attacks were so bad. I’m just worried about diet going forward although I have seemed to lose 10 pounds already. I don’t seem as bloated. Glad to know I’m not alone Keep well

    • I am glad they were able to figure out the source of your pain. Hope you are feeling better now and have found what works for you diet wise!

  • I had mine out roughly a year ago. The immediate BM after eating anything was horrible. I’ve pooed myself multiple times and don’t eat while I’m working just in case. My gastroenterologist put me on a powder that I mix in juice and OMG, what a life saver. I couldn’t function without it. I take it every other day because it’s pretty binding but I’d rather have that issue than be loosely goosey

    • Oh wow! Mine hasn’t been that severe but I have had close calls. I am glad your doctor was able to give you something to help you control it!

  • Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I am currently going through the attacks and surgery is scheduled for 2 weeks out. Eating had been difficult because everything seems to cause pain.

  • I just came across this and got my gallbladder removed today! My experience the day of surgery so far has been the exact same of yours. Thank you for sharing!

      • Thank you so much for sharing your story! I was recently diagnosed with an inflamed gallbladder without stones and I’m doing everything that I can to try and keep it. Although I’ve completely changed my diet, I still get bloating and discomfort after a meal so chances of keeping it, is looking slim. After you had your gallbladder removed, did you restrict yourself on how much fatty food you can consume in one sitting? Also, do you take any regular vitamins or supplements such as ox bile & digestive enzymes to help with your IBS?

        • Of course! For a couple months after I got it removed, I did restrict the amount of fatty foods. I gradually reintroduced it back into my diet a little bit at a time so that my body could get used to digesting it without a gallbladder. I do not take any additional vitamins/supplements for IBS.

  • Thank you for your post. I’m scheduled for laparoscopic next week and freaking out because I have a baby and a 5 year old kid. Read your inspiring post

  • My Dr told me I had an inflammed gallbladder from ultra sound ànd mri, I didn’t want to accept that this was happening to me. I ignored the fact for a year and now I’m getting these irritable pains and I know is my gallbladder acting up again. Honesty I’m terrified to do surgery because I have an one year old son and a 15yr old daughter. I’m so scared. Reading your experience has caused me to make up my mind to go do this surgery……because God knows I’m really stressing myself over this and I jus want to be healthy for my family. Thank you so much..

    • About a week or two after surgery I ate a very bland, low fat diet. Lots of chicken noodle soup, congee (rice porridge), roasted veggies, oatmeal, golden milk latte (I have a recipe for that on my website too), that sort of thing. Slowly after that I started introducing a little bit of fat and spice into my diet again so that my body could adjust. Hope this helps!

  • I had an on and off problem over the last 2 years with my digestive tract and a couple of weeks ago had to go to the ED for pain that usually goes away within the hour or gets better over night. But this time it was worse, my chest, around my sternum was in so much pain it felt like a really really bad heartburn attack, and all around my abdomen was in pain. After being in the ED for 3 or 4 hours, I finally saw the doctor and was given medicine to help with the pain and was able to sleep. They did a cat scan and an ultrasound and discovered gallstones and one was in one of my bile ducts which connects with the pancreas. They determined that if I didn’t have surgery, my gallstones could hurt my pancreas in the long run and I could end up having pancreatitis because of it. So I had the same surgery as you. I was admitted for 4 days, wasn’t able to eat anything except ice and drink little water so all of the inflammation could go down, was on fluids and medicine to assist the pain. And then they said it was time for surgery on day 4 and everything happened so fast. It felt like I was only asleep for 10 minutes during surgery. Left the next day. Still on a bland diet sort of.
    It’s so weird how many times I’ve been told that people know others who have had their gallbladder removed yet I’ve only known of one person. And they say it’s a common surgery to have for women. It should be taught or talked about more. I wish I saw this while at the hospital.

    • Thank you for sharing your experience! I totally feel you! It was kind of reassuring for me to know that it is a common surgery in the world of medicine but also not knowing many people personally who had gone through it feels very isolating. I’m so sorry that yours was a 4 day ordeal, I hope you are doing well now!

  • I am so glad to read your story. I live in Austin too and just had gallbladder removal. I even had that same beautiful purple outfit as you. I appreciate you writing about life after the surgery as I couldn’t find anything on it till I came across your post. I’ll be reading your blog!

    • Hey fellow Austinite! Thank you for taking the time to read it! Hope you are adjusting ok to life without a gallbladder! Happy to chat about it anytime!

      • I’m also in the Austin area. I’ve been dealing with attacks for a year now. Can I ask which hospital you had your surgery at? I’m hoping to get an ultrasound soon and get my pain resolved. It’s so hard to find a good doctor that can help you.

        • I got it done with Austin Surgeon’s Dr. Jeffrey Meynig. The procedure was outpatient and performed at Central Park Surgery Center. Hope you feel better soon!

  • I truly appreciate that you shared your experience from beginning to end. It’s comforting to know someone else is going through the same thing. I’m nervous about my upcoming surgery. I’m such a foodie and was really upset that without a gallbladder, I won’t be able to enjoy food adventures anymore and have to eat “strictly healthy”. But then I read this and started following you on IG and you gave me such hope! Do you restrict yourself on any foods now or is it a balance?

    • Wishing you a speedy recovery! I don’t really restrict myself but for me it is definitely a balance! I cook nearly every day and eat mainly fish and plant-based meals when I’m at home. I don’t show my healthy meals much on IG because people usually aren’t interested in seeing that haha. When I go out to restaurants I just eat whatever I’m craving, but it’s definitely not an everyday/every meal type thing. I always make sure a bathroom is nearby just to be safe too haha.

  • Thank you for sharing your story! I was just recommended for gallbladder removal today and it is a scary thing to think about but I will definitely have surgery as my father passed from complications with gallstones and became septic. Golden milk sounds interesting. Will look for your recipe. Not looking forward to recovery as my husband is not a care giver type person.

    • I am so sorry to hear about your father but I am glad that you getting it taken care of before it becomes too serious. Wishing you a speedy recovery! You just need a comfy bed and good movie or show to watch!

  • Thank you for posting this! I have been looking for a community of women discussing this and I couldn’t find anything until I found this. I just got mine out almost 3 weeks ago – after a whole year of misdiagnosis in 2019, then a diagnosis and a trial where I stopped taking estrogen (correlation between rising estrogen and gallstones!), changed my diet and took ursodiol and had no attacks from Decemeber 2019 until last month at the end of May, 2022! Unfortunately I had three attacks within the span of 10 days so we rushed my surgery out of fear that it would burst. I’m feeling so much better pain wise, but my fatigue and energy levels are still so low and I just don’t feel 100% myself yet (especially because I am a very active 24 year old!) 🙁 Did this part of recovery last longer for you? How did you cope with this?

    Thank you!!

    • Hi Maddy, thank you for sharing your story! Sounds like you have been on quite the journey. For me personally, I don’t recall struggling with low energy. My only real lasting side effect is IBS. Have you tried discussing this with your primary care doctor?

  • I had my gallbladder removed 37 years ago when it was an open procedure and you were in hospital for 10 days. It took them 6 months to diagnose as I was only 25, fit and young and very thin. During the 6 months I had nightly episodes of vomiting and excruciating pain. It was worse than labour pain! Afterwards I recovered very quickly, for about 2 years I could not eat rich tomato sauces, drink red wine, or orange juice or eat much cheese. Since then I have eaten and drunk whatever I like, although orange juice still is too acidic. I am now 62, fit, relatively trim and lead an active life. I don’t drink much wine and we have a healthy diet with little red meat, lots of fruit and vegetables. Hoping this helps someone else.

    • Hi Sue, thank you so much for sharing your story! I am glad with medical advances that this is only an outpatient laparoscopic procedure now. It is a relief to hear that after 37 years, you are still living a normal life without a gallbladder. If you don’t mind me asking, what happens if you drink orange juice now?

  • I am so glad to have found your blog! I’m in the process of scheduling my surgery with my doctor as I’ve had two attacks since May. The May one was strong and spanned over 3 days and the latest one was yesterday but already subsided.
    As others I am concerned, but not so much so for the surgery as my doctor specializes in this surgery but I share others’ concerns about life after the surgery . I am a bit of a foodie and traveler and I’m afraid this will change everything for me.
    I see others have mentioned that their doctor prescribed them medication and or a “powder”, how have those worked out for you and everyone else?

    • Wow, I cannot imagine a 3 day attack! That sounds awful! As for life after surgery, I still live with IBS. Low dose amitriptyline is the medication that my doctor prescribed to me. I only take it when I am traveling but it definitely helps me not have to go so urgently. For normal people this medication makes them constipated but for those with IBS it helps make things more “normal”. Hope you find something that works for you so that you can continue your foodie adventures and travel comfortably!

  • 37 years of age and just had the scare of my life with the most horrendous right upper abdominal pain ever experienced, 3 births don’t even compare. For years I have experience indigestion, acid reflux, pain post eating potatoes, pasta, chips, ice cream, and fast food. All which I thought were post pregnancy body changes. Normally the discomfort went away with tums or pepcid, at desperate times of higher discomfort I would have such bad nausea I would make myself vomit up my meal as it felt like it was not digesting and just sitting in my stomach poisoning me and felt like a sack of rocks pushing on my spine. Typically I just stayed away or greatly reduced irritable foods. Four days ago I had what was to be my last splurge meal before starting a very clean and fresh diet regimen as I need to lose 50 lbs. Well, the fettuccine Chicken Alfredo did me in…within an hour I experienced the typical discomfort, within two hours nausea, lower sternum pain, and right lower rib pain that radiated around to my back and spine. Pain 10/10. My body would not vomit naturally and I knew I had to get this food out ASAP! After 18 hours of my nightmare with no sleep and severe dehydration and thinking I had food poisoning or a virus I finally decided this was something more serious and went to the ER and found out my gallbladder was full of stones and clogging ducts with inflammation and an infection. I was admitted right away, given pain meds, nausea meds, antibiotics, and a liquid only diet until midnight and rest. The following day at 10 am I had an emergency laparoscopic cholecystectomy that lasted 45 min. Woke around 1pm coughing due to the breathing tube which was 10/10 painful on my abdomen but went away once they got me settled.. My Dr was fantastic and even sent me home with 4 little heart shaped bandages and the stones as a reminder, The first words out of my mouth laying on the gurney was, “THAT WAS IN ME?!” Let’s just say it was a container of large marble sized stones. I was shocked to say the least. I stayed in the hospital until 5:30pm then went home to rest. Abdomen was sore especially around the belly button area but pain meds and ice have helped immensely. It wasn’t until I received the ER’s initial pain meds that it hit me how much pain I was in,!and that I kept down playing it to my spouse, once I found relief I started bawling and then the ultrasound technician got to poke and prod at me and she was so understanding and kind. Waking up on day four now with abdominal pain still but getting better by the moment I have to remind myself to rest in my busy house of 6. Looking up all that I can to move forward on a healthier lifestyle and know that I am not alone. Thank you for all your entries this has been very helpful and empowering.

    • Thank you for sharing your story! I was also shocked when they showed me an image of my gallstones – I didn’t get to take any home as a souvenir unfortunately. I am glad you are starting to feel better and I am sure someone will read this and find comfort as well. You are definitely not alone and I wish you a speedy recovery!

  • I have been dealing with gallbladder issues for a few years now. I had three major pain flare ups that I managed with some pain meds but was very anxious they might return. I did a lot of research and desperately wanted to keep the gallbladder. There are as many as 50% of people who continue to have pain and problems even after removal. I think many of my problems paralleled a keto style diet. I gave up dairy and became vegan for 8 months with much less stomach bloating and issues, but it never went away. Then a few weeks ago I wanted to lose a little weight so went low carb again and after 2 weeks had the worst flare up ever. Went to Er, had the same simple removal as everyone. I only had one large stone, but Dr. said the gallbladder was infected and definitely needed to come out. It has been one week, starting to feel better but extremely anxious about the future. I am older so don’t know if healing is affected by that. I am back off dairy and will be eating more vegan as it is naturally low fat and the food is delicious. Thank you so much for keeping this site going as it is so helpful and encouraging to read about the experiences of others.

  • I had an ongoing pain on the right side of my tummy since April this year visited the Dr. an ultrasound was done..results a multiple of gall stones were found . I was referred to a Govt.hospital..same procedure an ultrasound was done and gall stones were found..during that time i was advised by my doctor that i have extra virgin olive oil with honey which I did morning and afternoon..seemed to help alot a date was given for surgery its 4 days today that I had surgery..still in a lot of pain but will surely heal with time..iam also diabetic..the most amazing thing came of o.p.no gall stones were found..gall bladder was sent to run some tests will go back on the 26th of this mth.for results..just to add on I have also been eating pineapples.

  • Thank you for the information, I’m one week post surgery and finding way around it, being careful on what I eat. I feel very little uneasiness now. I didn’t have attacks but it was consistent pain on the right side. I waited one year before I got the surgery and doctor found alot of stones and swollen too. And a lymph node too which has been removed. I had trouble passing motion for days but slowly getting better. Lots of leafy greens and papaya helped. Lot of eggs chicken and vitamin C rich foods for quick recovery. There is very little info on diets and on this, wish I seen this earlier too.

  • i am having a surgery soon to take my gallbladder out and I am very frightened about it can you eat whatever you want after a few months

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