My Surgery

Information for patients planning to have surgery with Boston Gallbladder

  • This page is designed to reinforce information provided to you at the time of your consultation. Feel free to share with your family members as needed.
  • This page is not a substitute for an evaluation by a Boston Gallbladder provider.
  • This page has some repetitive material provided during your consultation.
  • This page has additional details to help you feel comfortable about your surgery
  • This page is comprehensive – please go through the whole page after your consultation
  • All of our staff are trained in providing answers to frequently asked questions that may not be addressed by this page.
  • We may determine that additional follow up is required before your surgery.


Review of your consultation

Gallbladder surgery is needed when the gallbladder is malfunctioning in some way that is resulting in symptoms that can include pain, nausea, bloating, belching, changes in bowel movements, vomiting. This can occur through development of gallstones or through dysfunction without stones present. If gallbladder surgery is not performed, symptoms will likely continue or in rare circumstances, other complications can occur such as blockages from stones resulting in inflammation or infection. 


What are the logistics? 

You will have a preoperative evaluation by some of the surgery staff at the hospital or surgical center prior to your surgery and will get instructions at the time for how long before surgery to avoid eating and drinking as well as which of your medications to take on the day of surgery.  You will need to come to the hospital 90 minutes before your scheduled time and gallbladder surgery is usually around an hour long. You will be recovering in the hospital for 2-3 hours after surgery before you go home to continue recovery there. 


What is recovery like? 

Recovery is different for everyone. Pain is normal after surgery and usually is worst in the first few days though some soreness can persist for a few weeks after surgery. We encourage the use of tylenol and ibuprofen as the first line of treatment for pain and use of opioid pain medication for any significant pain you have despite use of the other medications. 

Pain will be worse with certain necessary physical activities like getting out of bed and up from a chair. Do this slowly and carefully until you no longer have pain at which point you are safe to proceed as you normally would. This is true for all activities. If you don’t have pain while doing them, you will not hurt the incisions and can proceed comfortably. 

Some patients will experience bloating and loose bowel movements after gallbladder removal. Your gallbladder is your storage center for bile and bile is needed for the digestion of fats. Fortunately, bile is made in the liver and your body adjusts to sending this bile straight to the intestine when needed once the gallbladder is removed. For some patients this happens right away after surgery and for others there is a transition as your body works this out. In this circumstance, digestion of fatty food can be difficult for a couple weeks after surgery and patients can complain of bloating and possibly loose bowel movements. This usually resolves on its own. Symptoms can be reduced by eating less fats in the first few weeks after surgery and in some cases, fiber supplementation can help reduce liquid bowel movements.

Patients can often get back to work within a few days if their jobs are remote or desk jobs – though driving should only resume when off opioid pain medications and when you can safely physically manage it. For more physically demanding jobs, you may need to delay return for 4 weeks to avoid putting undue strain on your incisions before they are adequately healed. 

Gallbladder Surgery: Review of Benefits and Risks

There are risks involved in every surgery including bleeding, infection, and injury to surrounding structures.  In the case of gallbladder surgery, injury can occur to the main bile duct (“common bile duct”) which can require a second surgery to repair should this occur. Careful steps are taken to identify and avoid this duct and fortunately the risk of injury is less than 0.01%. Other risks include the possibility that a stone had passed from the gallbladder into this main duct prior to surgery and later goes on to block up the main duct. The risk of this “retained stone” problem occurring is 1% and is treated by an endoscopy by a gastroenterologist where the stone is extracted. Another possibility is that the end of the main duct can spasm and prevent easy passage of bile into the intestine and back up pressure to the surgical site where leaking can occur. This also has a risk of about 1% and is treated by the same endoscopy procedure during which the spasming area is opened to allow normal flow of bile.  

In each of these complications, a patient may experience new sharp pain at some point after surgery that is out of the normal for their recovery. If you experience this, please call our office right away and we can help guide you through the next best steps. 

Check out more information about risks of surgery.


Important Communications about COVID-19:

All patients having surgery are required to have a negative COVID-19 test 48-72 hours prior to surgery.  Our office will help you with getting the test done. After the test all patients must self-isolate in order to maximize the safety of their surgery.

How to self isolate after COVID-19 testing:

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) is a new disease mainly spread between people who are in close contact with one another. The current guidelines suggest that “close contact” means less than six feet for about a consecutive 10 minutes or more. 

After getting tested for COVID-19 , you will be required to self-isolate until the day of surgery. 

What does self-isolate mean?

  • Stay home. Whoever else lives with you should also stay home. Do not go to the grocery store or public areas. 
  • If you live with others, self-isolate in a private room and use a private bathroom if possible. 
  • Maintain six feet distance between yourself and others you live with when you must be in common areas together. 
  • Monitor for any signs and symptoms of COVID-19 
    • Fever over 100 degrees 
    • Cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, respiratory symptoms
    • Loss of taste or smell 
    • Muscle pain, body aches 
  • Report any signs or symptoms to your primary care doctor. Contact our office or the center where you are having surgery before coming to the facility if you develop any of the above symptoms. 

On the day of surgery, you must wear a mask to the facility. You will complete a screening survey, attest to maintaining self-isolation and have your temperature checked. 

Please do not bring any valuables on the day of surgery. We look forward to caring for you! 


The Process of Scheduling Surgery:

  • After appointment – pencil in a day when leaving
  • Review date with family, employer
  • Depending on location you may be required to register by phone or online
  • Healthy patients will get a phone screen
  • Patients with other medical issues may require an in person appointment with anesthesia
  • Patients with other medical conditions may require a letter from primary care provider, cardiology, or other specialists
  • Once all required information is available we can confirm the surgical date with you.


Questions related to the time before gallbladder surgery:

When do I come in for surgery?

Our office will email you, send you a letter, or call you about your surgery time and date about 1 week before your surgery. A lot needs to happen in the hospital prior to your surgery, so in consideration to other patients, please come at your appointed time, which is about 1.5 hours before surgery.

What activities can I do before surgery?

There are no activity restrictions. This includes going to the gym or general exercise.

Do I need to shave my surgical sites before surgery?

PLEASE DO NOT SHAVE AT HOME! We will use a clipper before surgery. Shaving at home increases the risk of infection and may result in surgery being rescheduled.

Do I have to fast before surgery?

The hospital will give you exact details, but generally, no food or drink is allowed after midnight on the day of surgery.

Can I take all my medicines before surgery?

Yes, as long as they are not blood thinners. You will get guidance on this in your preoperative screening call. 

Do I stop Aspirin before surgery?

Not if it’s prescribed by your primary care provider.

Do I stop my blood thinners before surgery?

Typically, yes!   Please discuss blood thinners during your preoperative visit as we will work with you and your regular doctors to come up with a plan specifically for you.

Can I take Motrin before surgery?

We prefer that you stop Motrin a week ahead of surgery if possible.

Can I have surgery if I’m on antibiotics for anything?

No. If you have an infection in your body, it’s best to delay surgery. Please call the office if you are being started on an antibiotic and you are scheduled for surgery!

Can I drive home from surgery?

No. You must have someone drive you home and bring you into the house.  Uber or Lyft are not ok because they will not bring you inside your home.



Questions related to the day of gallbladder surgery:

What should I wear?

Wear loose comfortable clothing.

Do I bring my phone or a book?

You can bring both in case there is some down time before surgery.

Can I drive to the hospital?

Yes, but you can NOT drive home after surgery.

Can I drive home?

No. You must have someone drive you home and bring you into the house.  Uber or Lyft are not ok because they will not bring you inside your home.

Do I have to have someone with me in the hospital?

No. You can be dropped off and picked up.

Do I need someone with me when I go home?

Yes. You must be accompanied home by someone you know. You cannot take a taxi or Uber home by yourself.

Can I take an Uber, Lyft or taxi home?

Only if you have someone with you. If you do not have anyone that can accompany you home, there are approved services that can pick you up and get you home.

Is there a pharmacy in the hospital?

No. We will send your prescription to your chosen pharmacy.



Questions related to the gallbladder surgery:

What clips are used on the gallbladder? 

Small plastic clips are used that will remain in place over time. Sometimes metal clips are used on small blood vessels in the area as well. These clips are safe to remain in place. They will not affect your ability to have an MRI or to go through security at the airport. 

How long will the surgery take?

About 45 minutes to 1 hour in most cases. 

Will I have general anesthesia?

Yes. Laparoscopic surgery can only be performed while under general anesthesia. 

Will I be awake for surgery?

No. You are completely asleep for surgery. 



Questions about gallbladder surgery recovery:

Will I be able to walk after surgery?

Yes. We want everyone to walk after surgery. Being as active as possible (doing activities that do not cause you sharp pain at the incisions) after surgery reduces your risk of pneumonia and blood clots. 

When can I shower after surgery?

You may shower immediately. There is waterproof glue on the incision. You do not need to keep this area dry.

When should I take my dressing off?

The surgical glue will peel off on its own in 2-3 weeks. You may pull it off when it is really peeling up at the edges and comes off easily.

Can I put a bandaid over the surgical glue?

Sure. Some people find that a bandaid feels better. Sometimes a bandaid can help keep your clothes clean in the small chance a few drops of blood seep from under the surgical glue.

Can I go up steps after my gallbladder surgery?

Yes. Please take steps slowly until you are sure you are comfortable.

Can I lift a gallon of milk?

Yes, as long as it doesn’t cause you sharp pain at your incisions to do so. 

Can I bend down to tie my shoes after surgery?

Yes, just move slowly.

Can I go for a long walk after gallbladder surgery?

Yes, we encourage it. 

When can I go for a run after surgery?

You can go for a run as soon as you feel comfortable doing so – don’t run if it causes you pain at your incisions. 

When can I resume sexual activity?

You may resume sexual activity right away as soon as you do not have associated sharp pain at your incisions. 

When can I go back to work after gallbladder surgery?

You may go to work whenever you feel like, as long as your job does not require heavy lifting. 

When can I go back to the gym?

You may return to the gym right away, but please avoid any exercises that cause you sharp pain at your incisions. Please use common sense and resume activity gradually.

How much pain will I have after surgery?

Everyone is different! Some pain, of course, is expected. Most of our patients feel that Tylenol and Motrin are strong enough to take care of their pain.  


Have more questions? Here are more FAQs.