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Gallbladder removal - open - discharge

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

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


Gallbladder anatomy

When You're in the Hospital

You had surgery to remove your gallbladder. The surgeon made an incision (cut) in your belly. The surgeon then removed your gallbladder by reaching in through the incision, separating it from its attachments, and 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 one or two drainage tubes in your belly:


Plan to have someone drive you home from the hospital. You will not be allowed to 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.

Wound Care

Your incision may have been closed with dissolving suture under the skin and glue on the surface. If so, you can shower the day after surgery without covering the incision. Leave the glue alone. It will come off on its own in a few weeks.

If your incision was closed with staples or stitches that need to be removed, it may be covered with a bandage. 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 the day after surgery.

If tape strips (Steri-strips) were used to close your incision, cover the incision with plastic wrap before showering for the first week. Do not try to wash off the Steri-strips. Let them fall off on their own.

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

Contact your provider if:

Related Information

Chronic cholecystitis
Acute cholecystitis
Getting out of bed after surgery


American College of Surgeons. Cholecystectomy: surgical removal of the gallbladder. American College of Surgeons Operation Brochures for Patients. Updated 2022. Accessed November 30, 2022.

Radkani P, Hawksworth J, Fishbein T. Biliary system. In: Townsend CM Jr, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2022:chap 55.

Quick CRG, Biers SM, Arulampalam THA. Gallstone diseases and related disorders. In: Quick CRG, Biers SM, Arulampalam THA, eds. Essential Surgery Problems, Diagnosis and Management. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 20.


Review Date: 8/22/2022  

Reviewed By: Debra G. Wechter, MD, FACS, General Surgery Practice Specializing in Breast Cancer, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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