Skip to Content

How long should you rest in bed after gallbladder surgery?

Gallbladder surgery, also known as a cholecystectomy, is a common procedure done to remove the gallbladder when gallstones or other problems cause pain and issues. Recovering from any surgery takes time and rest, and gallbladder surgery is no exception. After having your gallbladder removed, it’s crucial to allow enough time for rest and healing before returning to normal activities. But how long should you plan to take it easy after gallbladder surgery? Here’s a look at typical recovery times and tips for resting properly after gallbladder removal.

How Long Does Gallbladder Surgery Recovery Take?

The recovery time after a cholecystectomy can vary significantly depending on the specific procedure done and each patient’s response. Here is an overview of typical recovery periods:

Laparoscopic Gallbladder Surgery

This is the most common technique used today for gallbladder removal. It involves small incisions in the abdomen and use of a tiny camera and surgical tools to remove the gallbladder with minimal invasiveness. The recovery time for laparoscopic gallbladder surgery is usually:

– Hospital stay: 1-2 days
– At-home rest: 1-2 weeks
– Return to work: 1-3 weeks
– Full activity recovery: 4 weeks

Most patients are able to return to desk work and light activity after about a week but will need to avoid heavy lifting and exercise for 3-4 weeks after laparoscopic surgery.

Open Gallbladder Surgery

In some cases, open surgery is required with a larger incision in the abdomen to remove the gallbladder. This involves a more intensive procedure and longer recovery:

– Hospital stay: 4-7 days
– At-home rest: 2-4 weeks
– Return to work: 4-6 weeks
– Full activity recovery: 6-8 weeks

Open gallbladder surgery requires extra time for the incision site to heal and for the abdomen to regain strength. Patients usually need about a month before they can return to light work activity.

Recovery from Gallbladder Surgery Complications

In a small percentage of surgeries, complications like bleeding, bile leaks or infections can occur. This extends the recovery timeframes even longer, usually:

– Hospital stay: 5-10 days or more
– At-home rest: 4-6 weeks
– Return to work: 6-8 weeks or more
– Full activity recovery: 8-12 weeks

Severe surgical complications can keep patients in the hospital for monitoring and intravenous antibiotics to treat infections. The recovery is delayed significantly in these cases.

Tips for Resting After Gallbladder Surgery

It’s important to allow the body adequate time to heal and refrain from activities that could put strain on the incisions or abdomen after gallbladder removal surgery. Here are some tips for resting properly:

Take Time Off Work

Most patients will need at least 1-2 weeks off work to recover after minimally invasive laparoscopic gallbladder surgery. Those who have open surgery may need 4-6 weeks or more of leave from job duties.

Avoid Lifting Anything Heavy

Do not lift anything over 10 pounds for at least 4 weeks after surgery. This includes lifting children, groceries, laundry baskets and anything else heavy. Ask others to help out with tasks that involve lifting during recovery.

Follow Activity Restrictions

Your surgeon will provide specific guidelines on avoiding exercise and other strenuous activity during recuperation. Typical restrictions after gallbladder surgery include:

– No exercise besides walking
– No swimming or baths for 2 weeks
– No driving for 1-2 weeks
– No sex for 2 weeks
– No housework like vacuuming for 2 weeks

Rest & Relax

Listen to your body and rest when you feel tired. Don’t push yourself too quickly. Read books, watch movies, and relax as much as possible during the first week or two after surgery. Getting adequate sleep can help the body heal.

Change Positions Slowly

Avoid any quick movements or twisting motions that could put strain on the abdomen. Roll onto your side slowly and use your arms to push yourself up gradually when changing positions.

Follow Eating Precautions

Proper rest also includes following any dietary restrictions from your surgeon, which usually includes avoiding spicy, greasy or fried foods which can irritate the digestive system. Eat smaller, bland meals until your system adjusts.

How Long Should You Stay in Bed After Gallbladder Surgery?

While adequate rest after surgery is important, extended time confined to bed can increase risks like blood clots, muscle loss and pneumonia. Here are some general timelines on how long you may need to stay in bed after gallbladder removal:

Immediately After Surgery

Patients are typically required to stay in bed with minimal movement for the first 6-12 hours after gallbladder surgery to allow the anesthetic to wear off and prevent bleeding risks. Nurses will monitor you closely and help with any needs during this period.

Hospital Stay

If you undergo laparoscopic gallbladder removal, you may be able to get out of bed after the first 12-24 hours, with assistance from hospital staff. For open gallbladder surgery, you may need to remain in bed for 2-3 days in the hospital.

First Week at Home

Once discharged, continue resting in bed or on the couch as much as possible for the first 5-7 days after returning home. Get up for short intervals with help to start moving again gradually.

After the First Week

After the first week of primarily bedrest, you should aim to start increasing movement and walking around the house several times a day. Continue taking rest breaks as needed, but avoid being sedentary for too long.

Signs You Need More Recovery Time

As you increase activity after gallbladder surgery, pay attention to how your body responds. You may need to take it slower and continue extra rest if you experience:

– Nausea, vomiting or loss of appetite
– Fever over 101°F
– Severe or increasing abdominal pain
– Bleeding from incision sites
– Fatigue or dizziness
– Muscle weakness

Notify your surgeon if you have any concerning symptoms or feel unable to keep up with the recommended activity timeframes. Additional recovery time may be needed.

Returning to Normal Routines

Depending on the type of surgery and your age and health status, you may be cleared to return to driving and work after 1-2 weeks if you have an office job. Heavy lifting, exercise and more strenuous activity must wait at least 4 weeks as your abdomen continues healing. Listen to your body and don’t overdo it too soon. Taking the full advised recovery window will promote proper healing and get you back to all normal activities as quickly as possible.


Taking enough time for rest and healing is crucial after gallbladder removal surgery. While hospital stays are usually brief, plan for 1-2 weeks of at-home recovery if you had laparoscopic surgery. Open gallbladder surgery requires closer to 4-6 weeks before returning to normal life. Avoid lifting, driving and strenuous exercise during this window. Get help with housework and gradually increase walking and other light activity. Staying in bed around the clock can actually hinder recovery – aim to find a healthy balance of rest and movement. Adhering to your surgeon’s recovery plan will help ensure you heal properly and get back to all your usual routines after gallbladder surgery.