Why Is My Stomach Bigger After Gallbladder Surgery?


Gallbladder surgery also known as Cholecystectomy, is a medical procedure performed to remove the gallbladder an organ located under the liver. Since its primary function is to store and release bile, a fluid produced by the liver, the gall bladder is crucial for the digestion of fats in the small intestine.

When Do You Need Gallbladder Surgery?

A gallbladder surgery is prescribed in the following cases-

Need Gallbladder Surgery
  1. Gallstones- This is one of the most common reasons for the surgery. These are solid particles formed in the gallbladder which can be painful and also could block the bile duct.
  2. Cholecystitis- Simply known as gallbladder inflammation, it can lead to various complications including pain and obstruction of the body functions.
  3. Biliary Dyskinesia- This occurs when the gallbladder doesn’t work properly causing indigestion, pain, and nausea.
  4. Pancreatitis- Sometimes, gallstones deposit themselves in the pancreatic duct, and removing the gallbladder could be the only solution for this.
  5. Biliary Colic- It is a kind of abdominal pain caused by gallstones and gall bladder dysfunction that doesn’t involve infection or inflammation of the same.

Types of Bladder Surgeries

The different kinds of gallbladder surgeries include-

1. Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy- The patient is administered anesthesia and makes incisions around the abdomen. He then uses trocars to insert the surgical equipment as well as the tiny camera. Then it is removed and the wounds are stapled.

2. Open Cholecystectomy- This includes the making of a larger incision and exposing the gallbladder to take it out.


Laparoscopic surgeries are often suggested as the best option since they are minimally invasive, faster recovery, and less pain. However, in some cases, open surgery would be the only choice, and therefore patients must discuss the possibilities with their doctor.

Why Is Your Stomach Bigger After Gallbladder Surgery?

After gallbladder surgery, some individuals may notice that their stomachs are swollen. This could be a perception of the changes in your abdominal cavity. It could be attributed to

1. Postoperative swelling- One of the most obvious explanations would be post-operative swelling. After any surgical procedure, the body usually responds with inflammation. It is a natural part of the process and is not uncommon throughout the healing journey. When it comes to gallbladder surgery, the incision sites can cause localized swelling in the abdominal area. Therefore the stomach appears to be fuller than it is. However, this is part of a post-operative journey and it would resume its normal size once the wounds are healed.

2. Changes in digestion- Gallbladder plays a critical role in the digestion of fats. The bile stored by the gall bladder emulsifies the fat we eat and helps in its digestion.  So without a gallbladder, the flow of bile cannot be controlled as per the need it keeps on flowing and this alters the way our body processes fats. This could be why one experiences abdominal discomfort and suffers from gas, bloating, or loose stools.

3. Dietary adjustments- After surgery concerning the digestive system, it is imperative that you make certain dietary adjustments. Many people have to give up the consumption of fatty and greasy foods as they can digest these without the help of bile. You can moderate the fat foods which could be the reason why you have diarrhea, cramps, and bloating. Moreover, you have to take a lot of time to adjust yourself to a low-carb diet.

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These experiences could vary for persons according to their recovery rate. Although these could be normal, you must visit a doctor if the swelling persists for over 2 weeks. Additionally, if you develop symptoms like severe pain, fever, and redness at the surgical site, there shouldn’t be any delay in meeting a doctor for further clarification. Digestive problems are also not rare but anything in severity must be dealt with professional help. Remember mild discomfort is common but severe isn’t.

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Gallbladder surgery is a simple procedure but it comes with its catches. The idea is to follow the instructions given by your doctor post and pre-surgery. However mild discomfort is usually expected. Any unusual pain, swelling, or other symptoms could point to a severe underlying condition. Early intervention is therefore key and a thorough checkup shouldn’t be delayed at any cost. 

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Dr. David G Kiely is a distinguished Medical Reviewer and former General Medicine Consultant with a wealth of experience in the field. Dr. Kiely's notable career as a General Medicine Consultant highlights his significant contributions to the medical field.

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