Gallbladder Removal Surgery


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.

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


57 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

  • 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 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 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 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!

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