HomeSurgery ArticlesWhy Is My Stomach Bigger After Gallbladder Surgery

Why Is My Stomach Bigger After Gallbladder Surgery

If you had gallbladder surgery recently and noticed your stomach expanding beyond its normal size, be aware that it’s a common side effect. It could be due to the swelling from the procedure, but this should end within a few weeks.

You may be experiencing post-cholecystectomy syndrome (PCS). This is a group of symptoms which can follow gallbladder surgery, such as bloating, gas, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Speak to your doctor, so they can help identify the issue and propose solutions. Why does this occur after gallbladder removal? Well, let’s explore some potential reasons in this blog post and find out how you can best cope with this problem.

Explaining What a Gallbladder Surgery Is

When your gallbladder is taken out, bile cannot accumulate between meals. Rather, it constantly seeps into your intestine, possibly causing indigestion and diarrhea. Generally speaking, such repercussions are short-lived and will subside within a few weeks. While certain individuals may experience persistent digestive concerns.

Due to the gallbladder acting as a storage unit for bile, its absence can lead to bile being less concentrated. This could make it hard for your body to breakdown and absorb fats, leading to steatorrhea (where your stool is greasy or oily and floats in the toilet). Additionally, you may have weight gain since your body isn’t able to process and take in necessary nutrients from food.

Common Reasons for Belly Swelling After Gallbladder Surgery

Here are some of the reasons why your stomach may appear larger after gallbladder surgery:

  • Gallbladder surgery is a major abdominal procedure that provokes inflammation in the neighborhood, resulting in puffiness and enlargement of the abdomen.
  • Scarring is a common occurrence after sustaining an injury or experiencing surgery, particularly with the gallbladder. For instance, scar tissue formation in the abdomen can cause pressure on the stomach and an inflated appearance.
  • After gallbladder surgery, adjustments to one’s diet may be necessary. This is because with the absence of a gallbladder, fats are harder for the stomach to digest. Eating a large number of fatty foods can cause abdominal discomfort and bloating.
  • During surgery, carbon dioxide gas is utilized to enlarge the abdomen in order to provide more space for the surgeon to carry out the procedure. Unfortunately, this may lead to the gas entering the bloodstream and causing abdominal bloating and a swollen belly.

It is important to remember that your stomach may go back to its original size in a few weeks or months. But if this doesn’t happen, or you have any discomfort, be sure to consult with your physician.

These are a few strategies that could prove useful in shrinking your abdomen following gallbladder surgery:

  • Eat small but regular meals. This will reduce the amount of food your stomach has to process in one go.
  • It is best to steer clear of foods which are high in fat, as they can be difficult for the gut to break down and can cause bloating.
  • Make sure to consume lots of liquids. This can help keep the digestive system functioning properly and aid in relieving bloating.
  • Regular exercise has a positive impact on digestion and can decrease inflammation.

By following these recommendations, you should be able to shrink your stomach and enhance your digestive wellbeing.

Effects of Bloating on the Body

The most common symptom of bloating is a feeling of fullness or pressure in the abdomen, often accompanied by abdominal pain, cramping, burping, or flatulence. Such extreme discomfort should not usually be cause for alarm; yet it can lead to visible swelling in the area.

Persistent bloating that does not respond to over-the-counter treatments can be a sign of a more serious medical condition like ovarian or gastric cancer. If you’re in this situation, it’s important to get checked out by your physician.

Symptoms to Look Out For

Most people have some discomfort and bloating after gallbladder surgery. This is because bile that was previously stored in the gallbladder is no longer able to be released. The intestines may take a few days or weeks to adjust to this change, and during this time you may experience cramping, gas, and diarrhea. Though these are usually mild symptoms, they may linger or become stronger; if this should happen, contact your doctor.

Here are some symptoms to look out for after gallbladder surgery:

  • After gallbladder surgery, bloating is a common occurrence. It typically results from gas being present in the body.
  • Gas is a common issue after gallbladder surgery due to changes in digestion.
  • Diarrhea can be a sign of post-cholecystectomy syndrome (PCS), which is often triggered by bile acid malabsorption.
  • Abdominal pain is a common symptom of PCS. It is often rooted in stomach dysmotility or small bowel bacterial overgrowth.
  • Nausea is a frequent symptom of PCS, often triggered by bile acid malabsorption or abdominal dysmotility.
  • Regurgitation or vomiting can be symptomatic of PCS and could be brought on by either bile acid malabsorption or a stomach that does not contract properly.
  • Weight loss may be seen in PCS, commonly due to issues such as diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.

It’s important to contact your doctor if you develop any unusual sensations after gallbladder surgery. They can assess the cause of your symptoms and offer recommendations for treatment.

How to Reduce Swelling and Discomfort

Following gallbladder surgery, it is not unusual to experience swelling and soreness. To minimize this there are a number of steps you can take.

  • Apply ice to the area for 20 minutes multiple times a day.
  • It is best to put on attire that is both relaxed and accommodating.
  • To prevent discomfort, make sure to keep your head and back in an elevated position while reclining.
  • Try to steer clear of any activities that could cause strain or require you to lift a heavy load.
  • Utilize over-the-counter pain medication as required.

If you’re suffering from debilitating pain, fever, or any other worrying symptoms, you should talk to your doctor or another healthcare provider.

Diet Changes After Gallbladder Surgery and Potential Nutritional Deficiencies

Following gallbladder surgery, it is conceivable that one might have to adjust their dietary habits. If not monitored correctly, this can result in potential nutritional deficiencies. Patients should be careful about their dietary choices as fatty or greasy foods can lead to diarrhea and indigestion, while high-fiber options may cause gas and bloating. As an alternative, they can opt for lean protein, low-fat dairy, fruits, and vegetables. To keep the body functioning optimally, adequate hydration is a must; drinking plenty of fluids is highly recommended.

In some cases, it may be beneficial to take supplements to make sure you are getting the nutrients your body needs. Vitamin B12, iron, and calcium are all essential common nutrients that could be in short supply. If you have any questions about which supplements may work best for you, consult with your doctor or a registered dietitian.


It’s important to keep in mind that gallbladder removal is not a magic bullet for weight loss. We have examined the potential explanations as to why you may be finding it hard to shed those extra pounds following surgery, such as your body taking time to heal and accommodate itself without its former digestive organ. If you are struggling with weight management post-surgery, it would be beneficial for you to seek advice from a medical expert regarding appropriate dietary modifications and lifestyle changes that may help you achieve your desired fitness outcomes.


1. Will I always have an enlarged stomach following gallbladder surgery?

Gallbladder surgery does not necessarily mean a permanently enlarged stomach. Usually, the swelling and bloated feeling are gone within a few weeks. Nonetheless, for some people, they may continue to feel bloated and have trouble with their abdomen in the long run.

2. Why is my stomach big after gallbladder surgery?

Your enlarged stomach after gallbladder surgery is the result of no longer having the organ. The gallbladder acts as a storage unit for bile, which is produced by the liver and allows for proper digestion. Without it, bile can escape into your abdomen, leading to inflammation and bloating.

3. How long does it take the stomach to go back to normal after gallbladder surgery?

It usually takes a month or two for the stomach to return to its pre-surgery condition after gallbladder surgery, as this timeframe can be different for each person. To minimize bloating and distress, making lifestyle changes like taking smaller meals more often and abstaining from foods high in fat may be beneficial.

4. What are the complications of gallbladder removal surgery?

Complications of gallbladder removal surgery may include infection, bleeding, damage to organs or structures nearby, and herniation. Rarely, bile leakage or bile duct narrowing might be experienced. After a gallbladder is removed, individuals may have an increased risk for digestive problems like diarrhea and lactose intolerance.

5. Is it normal to have abdominal pain after gallbladder removal?

Abdominal pain is a common issue for those who have undergone gallbladder removal surgery. Although it usually fades over time, this pain can linger for weeks or even months in some individuals. It’s best to inform your doctor if the discomfort doesn’t subside or becomes more severe, as it might signify something more extensive.

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