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Eating after surgery

Read about how your diet may change after surgery for gallbladder cancer.

Diet and gallbladder surgery

Usually, you don't have to avoid particular foods after gallbladder surgery, but some people do get increased wind (gas) or bloating after meals for up to several weeks after surgery. In most cases, these changes are short term and will get better within a few weeks of having your operation. 

But if you have had very major surgery, with the removal of other organs such as the pancreas, you may have problems digesting your food. You may not feel like eating much, and eating small meals often may seem easier than having 3 large meals a day.

Bowels after gallbladder surgery

About 20 out of every 100 people (20%) who have their gallbladder removed will have diarrhoea afterwards.

This is because bile is no longer stored in the gallbladder and flows directly from the liver into your small bowel. Also, after your gallbladder has been taken out, your stools tend to stay in your bowel for less time. So you have to go to the toilet more often.

Diarrhoea will improve with time, but unfortunately, it can last for many years. This can make everyday life more difficult. Being continuously worried about having an accident with your bowels when you are out is a big strain.

Some things may help. You could:

  • ask your doctor to recommend anti diarrhoea medicines to slow down your bowel
  • ask your doctor about medicines that help bind the bile
  • avoid foods that you find make diarrhoea worse, such as caffeine in tea and coffee, and spicy and fatty foods
  • wear a small pad in your pants – it may feel strange but might help to prevent embarrassing moments in public and so help you feel more confident
  • get a 'Just can't wait card' from the Bladder and Bowel Foundation – the card allows holders access to toilets in shops and pubs etc
Last reviewed: 
24 Jun 2014
  • Cancer and its management (6th edition)
    Tobias J and Hochhauser D
    Wiley-Blackwell, 2010

  • Biliary cancer: ESMO clinical practice guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow up. 
    Eckel F, Brunner T, Jelic S (2010)
    Annals of Oncology (supplement 5): v65-v69

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