Gallbladder Surgery After-Care

Q: My mother just had gallbladder surgery. What does she need to know about self-care going forward?

A: In medical school, students use a crude alliteration to remember the risk factors for gall bladder problems: Fat, female, fecund, and 40.

This means that women who are over the age of 40, overweight, and have had one or more children are at a much higher risk of gall stones and inflammation (cholecystitis)

There are very few dietary restrictions one needs to follow after the surgery, though it may be prudent to eat a diet lower in fats (and we should all be doing that anyway). The most important thing is to optimize her nutritional status (lots of lean protein and vitamin-packed fruits and vegetables) so that the healing process has all of the good energy it needs.

Most likely she had a laparoscopic procedure and the incisions very small, so there should really be not physical restrictions either.

Dr. Brent Ridge is the health expert for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. You can call and ask him a question live every Tuesday at 2 p.m. Eastern on Sirius Satellite Radio, Channel 112 (1.866.675.6675). You can also follow along as he learns to grow his own food and raise goats on his farm in upstate New York by visiting

Got a health question for Dr. Brent? E-mail him at

Love This? Never Miss Another Story.


Carine F.
Carine F.3 years ago

Hi there
I had my gallbladder operation yesterday, and more than 27 hours later had no pain and no painkillers. I am taking it easy as I realise from the outside it might look like a small operation but inside might look better. I hope my recovery and life without gallstones will be bliss.

Danuta Watola
Danuta Watola3 years ago

Thanks for the information.

KS Goh
KS Goh3 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Michele Wilkinson

Thank you

Emma Y.
Emma Y.4 years ago

hi my name is emma, i had my gallbladder taken out 7 days ago and never felt better! i was so worried about having it done. people are not sure what a gallbladder even is!... so there not sure what to say , but after i had it done i was in pain for about 3 days but with the pain killers i was ok, i am now on day 7 and have been out shopping ,looking after my two children 6 and 3. washing cleaning . back to my old self well even better than my old self !.. you will find you have a bit of wind lol and if your worried about eatting ..dont be. i started out with soup and jelly only because i didnt rally fill like eatting. but you can eat what you like, i have cut out bread full fat cheese and full fat milk, but even if you had a gall bladder and was eatting fat you would put on weight so just be a little carefull , i was 12st 8 when i went in and 12st 7 now so.. good luck if your waiting to have this done but i can tell you i have no more pain and am doing fantastic! emma xx

Cheryl B.
Cheryl B.4 years ago


Brenda Towers
Brenda Towers4 years ago

Many thanks.

il P.
il P.5 years ago

I have always eaten well, lots of fruits and vegetables and home cooked meals, try to avoid fried and fatty foods. And still I have always been overweight. When I had my pain episodes I was 41, I am female and with 2 kids....typical case. It turned out my gall bladder was full of stones and my liver enzimes were in the thousands. I never had nausea but the pain was very bad and I couldn't breath. The first time I had the pain I fainted on the floor and my husband called an ambulance.
I had my gallbladder removed in January 2010, laparoscopicaly. I was send home 1 h after the surgery. I had absolutely no pain and was on my feet the same evening and cooking for my family the next day. The only thing is that few times I had nausea and slight pain in the same area, that cannot compare with the pain I had before the surgery. I researched it and learned that it is common to have this syndrome after the surgery and it depends on how long you had gall bladder problems before.

Sue W.
Past Member 5 years ago

Hi Brenda, I truly sympathise with that excruciating pain that, as all suffers and Drs agree, is comparable only to a heart attack as the pain is so high, or in my case on down to the back and stomach too.

The problems you get with using spaghetti sauce is the tomato base and it's that which won't be agreeing with you. I suffer terribly with the same problems and only ever eat fresh tomatoes. Even tomato soup makes me suffer for hours after and is never worth it. All the best. Sue

Brenda Z.
Brenda Z.5 years ago

I had my gall bladder out April 2008. I had one attack and it felt like I was having a heart attack. I had extreme tightness in my chest. My husband rushed me to the ER at 2:30 in the morning. They took an EKG, blood work and did an ultrasound of my gall bladder. I didn't have any cysts or gall stones so the ultrasound was inconclusive. The only thing was, my liver enzymes was high. My doctor ordered a hydrascan of my gall bladder, which showed that my gall bladder was only working at 10%. I had surgery 3 days later. They did it laparoscopic and I was back to work in 2 weeks. I feel great, but honestly I didn't feel bad until that night I had the attack. Food wise, the only thing that bothers me occasionally is spaghetti sauce, it gives me cramps.