Gallbladder surgery recovery time

Updated June 13, 2017

Gallbladder surgery is a commonly performed surgery. The gallbladder is a small organ that stores a digestive fluid called bile.


The gallbladder is removed to relieve symptoms related to gallstones and inflammation of the gallbladder or pancreas.


The two types of gallbladder surgery are laparoscopic cholecystectomy and a traditional or open cholecystectomy. A laparoscopic cholecystectomy is less invasive involving three to four small incisions as opposed to a traditional cholecystectomy which involves a six-inch incision.

Length of Surgery

A laparoscopic cholecystectomy or a traditional cholecystectomy each take about one to two hours to perform.

Recovery Time

After a laparoscopic cholecystectomy, recovery time is about one week, and you can usually return to work in a few days. After a traditional cholecystectomy, recovery time is about four to six weeks, and you can usually return to work in about a week or longer.


The risk of complications during gallbladder surgery are unlikely, but can include a bile leak, bleeding, blood clots, heart problems, infection, inflammation of the pancreas, pneumonia and damage to nearby organs. Although extremely rare, organ damage can lead to death.

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About the Author

Since 2008, Jennifer S. Wright has written articles on a variety of topics including parenting concerns, medical conditions and nursing issues. Her articles have appeared in "LPN" magazine as well as on various online publications. An LVN since graduating from Weatherford College in 2005, Wright has taken care of elderly, pediatric and obstetric patients in hospital and home health care settings.