Gallbladder Removal Summary

Gallbladder removal is done when a person has gallstones or their gallbladder is not functioning properly. There are two surgical methods a doctor can choose from to perform a gallbladder removal, laparoscopic and open. Laparoscopic is the more common and less invasive of the two procedures.

You may need a gallbladder removal if you have the following symptoms:

  • Pain in the upper right or upper midsection after eating
  • Frequent nausea or vomiting
  • Frequent indigestion
  • Gallbladder infection

Length of the procedure: 1 hour

Hospital Stay: Generally laparoscopic gallbladder removal is done as an outpatient procedure. At most you will be in the hospital for 24 hours. If you have an open procedure you will be in the hospital for 2 to 6 days.

Recovery before traveling home: Patients seeking a gallbladder removal surgery through medical tourism can return home within 24 to 48 hours unless they have an open procedure.

Travel Tip: Although this an outpatient procedure it is best to wait at least 24 hours post operative before traveling.

Procedure Details

Your surgery will begin with the administration of general anesthesia. If the procedure is being done with a laparoscope they will make 3 to 4 small incisions in the belly. They will use these incisions to insert the medical tools used for guidance and removal.

The abdomen will be filled with gas so that it expands. This gives the surgeon a better view with the laparoscope camera and more room to work. First, the surgeon will separate the gallbladder from the bile duct and connective blood vessels. Then, they will remove the gallbladder.

During the procedure dye will be inserted into your bile duct. This allows the surgeon to see other stones that are outside your gallbladder and remove them.

During the laparoscopic procedure the surgeon may decide that it is unsafe to remove the gallbladder laparoscopically. In this case they will make a 5 to 7 inch incision in the upper right belly. The rest of the procedure proceeds as it would laparoscopically, only the abdomen is open.

After the Procedure

After the procedure you will be taken to recovery. Your vitals will be monitored carefully during this time. If you had a laparoscopic procedure you will be released from care as soon as you can hold down liquids and have recovered from anesthesia. If you had an open procedure you will be moved to your room at this time.

Things to expect during recover:
  • Pain in belly
  • Pain in 1 or both shoulders
  • Sore throat
  • Nausea and or vomiting
  • Loose stool for 4 to 8 weeks
  • Bruising and redness of incision site
  • No driving for 2 to 3 days
  • Lifting 15 pounds or less for 1 to 2 weeks
  • Return to work in 1 week


In general gallbladder removal is very successful. Most patients recover rapidly after the procedure and do very well.

Risks and Complications

As is with any surgery there are risks associated with gallbladder removal surgery. The following is a list of the most common risks and complications:

  • Reaction to anesthetic or medication
  • Breathing problems
  • Post-op pneumonia
  • Heart problems
  • Blood clots
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Bile duct injury
  • Small intestine injury
  • Pancreatic inflammation
Contact your physician if any of the following occur:
  • Temperature above 101 degrees
  • Bleeding from surgical wound
  • Warmness of surgical wound
  • Drainage from surgical wound is thick, yellow, green, bloody, milky or foul smelling
  • Breathing is labored or difficult
  • Cough is persistent
  • Skin or the whites of eyes are yellow
  • Stool is grey
  • Loss of appetite or lack of thirst