Gallbladder Removal Side Effects, Dangers, Complications and Risks

Cholecystectomy is the medical procedure that surgically removes the gallbladder. Around 60% of the patients that undergo this procedure experience an improvement in their digestion, but for the 40% patients, they experience side effects and other discomforts.

Complications and Risks of Gallbladder Removal

Here are some of the side effects that patients suffer after gallbladder removal:

  • Diarrhea is a common side effect of removing gallbladder. Since there is no more gallbladder to store bile from the liver, it goes directly to the digestive tract and irritates the large intestine, causing diarrhea. Food also moves easily when gallbladder is removed, which also results to diarrhea.
  • Heartburn can also be experienced by people who have undergone cholecystectomy.
  • Unexplainable discomfort is usually felt by the patients a few days after the surgery. This happens as the body organs adjust to the absence of gallbladder in the system.
  • Bloating is the result of carbon dioxide pumped inside the body and remains there.
  • Difficulty in breathing. It is important that after surgery, deep breathing is now practiced.
  • Heartburn is the result of improper digestion. Since there is not enough bile in the system, some of the fatty foods remain undigested and these fatty acids and gastric acids will try to regurgitate back to the esophagus, causing pain in the chest, neck, throat, etc.

Long Term Effects of Removing Gallbladder

Although the use of gallbladder is only to store bile from the liver, absence of this organ to the body can cause long term complications. Here are some of the long term risks of gallbladder removal:

  • Formation of bile stones. Bile stones will be formed when the patient with no gallbladder continues to eat fatty foods, allergen, salty foods, and other foods that can cause formation of these stones.
  • Injury to common bile duct. Bile duct will continuously produce bile since there is no stored bile. Non-stop production of bile can cause injury to the bile duct.
  • Lack of stored bile acids. Since there‚Äôs not enough stored bile, eating fatty foods will result to undigested fats.
  • Irritation on the lines of intestine. This can be cause by continuous production of bile even if there is no food to digest.
  • Colon cancer. People with their gallbladder removed are more prone to have colon cancer in the long run. This is the worst long term effect of gallbladder removal. Bile irritates the lines of intestine which can trigger the formation and production of cancer cells.


  1. Sherri said:

    I had my gallbladder removed yesterday. I am having trouble with my breathing. It hurts my stomach and chest when I breath. What can I do for the breathing to make the chest and stomach pain to go away?

    January 14, 2012
  2. DE said:

    I had my gall bladder removed six years ago. I have recently been feeling a discomfort where the gall bladder was removed. I don’t know if it is phantom pain or anything else.

    February 17, 2015
    • PUP said:

      The discomfort in the area of gallbladder which was removed surgically long back can be due to phantom pain as you rightly guessed. However, to confirm it you have to rule other causes. So a sonogram of abdomen is beneficial to rule out various causes. You may also require X-ray of chest. If nothing is found in these tests, the discomfort can be phantom pain. If it is so, you need to distract your attention from pain to something more meaningful. Keep yourself physically active. Reduce muscular tension by relaxing.

      February 18, 2015
  3. Linda said:

    I had my gallbladder removed six weeks back. I had severe pain and made two trips to emergency room. They have to put a stent and will remove it after three weeks. I am still having pain under rib cage and diaphragm through the back. I cannot sleep well as it hurts whenever I turn back and forth. My doctor has no answer why this is happening. I will appreciate if somebody can help.

    April 24, 2017
  4. Brandi said:

    Linda, the same thing happened to me and sometimes it still does. When they remove your gallbladder the liver can become irritated and swollen depending on the size of the gallbladder when it was removed and how much the surgeon had to move your liver around. This can cause back pain and pain in the diaphragm. My surgeon told me to lay on my left side or on my back with a pillow to prop me up somewhat, so the weight of other organs wouldn’t push on my liver.

    He also said that there is an adjustment time for the liver and other organs to settle back in place. This is the case with most surgeries I have found. In worst case scenario- your liver or intestines could’ve been nicked and they will heal in time, but if is too bad it can lead to worse conditions. If it doesn’t get better go to another doctor or ER. I am not a doctor by any means, I hope things get better for you.

    June 6, 2017

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