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Recovery

How long it takes to recover from gallbladder removal surgery (cholecystectomy) depends on whether you had a laparoscopic (keyhole) or open procedure.

Most people who have keyhole surgery are able to leave hospital on the same day as the operation. It'll usually take around 2 weeks to return to your normal activities.

After open surgery, you'll usually have to stay in hospital for 3 to 5 days, and your recovery time will be longer. It can take around 6 to 8 weeks to return to your normal activities.

In either case, you'll need to arrange for someone to take you home from hospital.

Someone should also stay with you for at least 24 hours if you go home the same day as your operation, as you may still be feeling the effects of the anaesthetic.

Possible side effects of surgery

You can live perfectly normally without a gallbladder, so there aren't usually any long-term effects from gallbladder removal surgery.

Temporary side effects can include:

These side effects are completely normal and not usually a cause for concern. 

You only need to contact your GP, the hospital or NHS 111 for advice if they're particularly severe or persistent.

Looking after your wounds

In many cases, dissolvable stitches will be used to close your wounds. These should start to disappear by themselves within a week or two.

If non-dissolvable stitches were used, you'll usually need to have them removed by a nurse at your GP surgery after 7 to 10 days. You'll be given an appointment for this before you leave hospital.

You'll be told about how to look after your wound and stitches, including how long any dressings need to stay on, when they should be replaced and when you can start having showers or baths.

Find out how to care for your stitches

There will be scars where the cuts were made in your tummy. These will probably be red and obvious at first, but should fade over time.

Getting back to normal

Your surgeon can give you specific advice about when you can return to your normal activities. 

Generally speaking, after keyhole surgery you can:

It can take a bit longer to return to these activities after open gallbladder removal surgery.

For example, you may not be able to drive or return to work for around 4 to 8 weeks.

When to get medical advice

Contact your GP, the hospital or NHS 111 for advice if you experience:

These problems could be a sign of a complication of gallbladder removal surgery.