What is Laparoscopic Gallbladder Surgery

All gallbladder surgeries require general anesthesia; the abdomen is inflated with gas to create space to work. In the typical procedure, a small incision is made in the abdomen around the belly button and a camera is inserted to view the gallbladder. Three more small incisions are made in the abdomen and narrow instruments are inserted to detach the gallbladder and remove it through one of the incisions. The skin is then closed using absorbable sutures. A cholangiogram, which is an x-ray test of the bile ducts, is sometimes done to make sure that stones are not lodged in the ducts. Laparoscopic cholecystectomy typically takes one to two hours.

A laparoscopic cholecystectomy isn’t appropriate in every situation.


What is an OPEN Cholecystectomy?

When a laparoscopic cholecystectomy is not feasible due to a patient’s anatomy, inflammation of the gallbladder or other reasons, an open cholecystectomy will be used. Sometimes, the surgeon needs to make that decision once the laparoscopic approach is underway. At this point, the procedure can be converted to an open procedure.

In the open procedure, the gallbladder is removed through a surgical incision high in the right abdomen, just beneath the ribs. Patients will usually be in the hospital two to three days, with a return to regular activities in two to four weeks.


Recovery varies depending on your procedure:

These are general guidelines regarding recovery from gallbladder surgery to give you an idea of what to expect. You should follow the specific instructions given to you by your surgeon.

  • Laparoscopic cholecystectomy. People are often able to go home the same day as their surgery, though sometimes a one-night stay in the hospital is needed. In general, you can expect to go home once you’re able to eat and drink without pain and are able to walk unaided. It takes about 1-2 weeks to fully recover. You can resume usual activities over the 3 to 5 days following surgery but should avoid strenuous activities for 2 weeks.
  • Open cholecystectomy. Expect to spend two or three days in the hospital recovering. Once at home, it may take four to six weeks to fully recover.
  • You will follow up with your surgeon in our office typically within 7-10 days or as instructed by your surgeon.
  • It is important to follow the specific instructions provided to you by your surgeon at discharge.