Gallbladder removal - open - discharge


Open gallbladder removal is surgery to remove the gallbladder through a large cut in your abdomen.

Alternative Names

Cholelithiasis - open discharge; Biliary calculus - open discharge; Gallstones - open discharge; Cholecystitis - open discharge; Cholecystectomy - open discharge

When You're in the Hospital

You had surgery to remove your gallbladder. The surgeon made a 5 to 7 inch (13 to 18 centimeters) incision (cut) in your belly. The surgeon then removed your gallbladder by reaching in through the incision, separating it from its attachments, and gently lifting it out.

What to Expect at Home

Recovering from open gallbladder removal surgery takes 4 to 8 weeks. You may have some of these symptoms as you recover:

The surgeon may have left 1 or 2 drainage tubes in your belly:


Plan to have someone drive you home from the hospital. DO NOT drive yourself home.

You should be able to do most of your regular activities in 4 to 8 weeks. Before that:

Managing pain:

Press a pillow over your incision when you cough or sneeze to ease discomfort and protect your incision.

Make sure your home is safe as you are recovering.

Wound Care

Change the dressing over your surgical wound once a day, or sooner if it becomes dirty. Your provider will tell you when you no longer need to keep your wound covered. Keep the wound area clean by washing it with mild soap and water.

You may remove the wound dressings and take showers if sutures, staples, or glue were used to close your skin.

If tape strips (Steri-strips) were used to close your incision:

DO NOT soak in a bathtub, hot tub, or go swimming until your provider tells you it is OK.


Eat a normal diet, but you may want to avoid greasy or spicy foods for a while.

If you have hard stools:


You will see your provider for a follow-up appointment in the weeks after your gallbladder removal surgery.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your provider if:


American College of Surgeons. Cholecystectomy: Surgical removal of the gallbladder. American College of Surgeons Surgical Patient Education Program. Accessed August 9, 2016.

Jackson PG, Evans SRT. Biliary System. In: Townsend CM Jr, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2017:chap 54.

Review Date: 7/22/2016
Reviewed By: Subodh K. Lal, MD, gastroenterologist with Gastrointestinal Specialists of Georgia, Austell, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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