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Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy


Laparoscopic cholecystectomy is surgery to remove your gallbladder.


Before your surgery:

  • Informed consent is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.
  • An IV is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.
  • Antibiotics may be given to prevent an infection.
  • Urinate just before surgery so your bladder is empty.
  • General anesthesia is used to keep you asleep and free from pain during surgery. Healthcare providers give you anesthesia through your IV or as a gas. You may breathe in the gas through a mask or through a tube placed down your throat. The tube may cause you to have a sore throat when you wake up.

During your surgery:

  • The surgeon will make between 1 and 4 small incisions in your abdomen or navel. Each incision will be about 1 to 2 inches long (2.5 to 5 cm). He will insert the surgical tools and laparoscope into the incisions. The camera attached to the laparoscope will display images of your abdominal organs on a nearby monitor. Your surgeon will fill your abdomen with carbon dioxide gas to make it swell. This lets him see your organs better and gives him room to move the surgical tools around.
  • He will look for and remove gallstones in and around your gallbladder. X-rays or an ultrasound may be used during surgery to see your organs better or look for gallstones. Your surgeon will remove your gallbladder through one of the incisions. The carbon dioxide will be released from your abdomen. Your incisions will be stitched or closed with adhesive strips, then covered with bandages.

After your surgery:

You will be taken to a recovery room until you are fully awake. Healthcare providers will monitor you closely for any problems. Tell your healthcare provider if you are in pain or feel like you might vomit. Do not get out of bed until your healthcare provider says it is okay. You may be able to go home later the same day, or you may stay in the hospital overnight.

  • You may need to wear pressure stockings or inflatable boots after surgery. The stockings are tight and put pressure on your legs. The boots have an air pump that tightens and loosens different areas of the boots. Both of these improve blood flow and help prevent clots.
  • Deep breathing and coughing will decrease your risk for a lung infection. Take a deep breath and hold it for as long as you can. Let the air out and then cough strongly. Deep breaths help open your airways. You may be given an incentive spirometer to help you take deep breaths. Put the plastic piece in your mouth and take a slow, deep breath, then let the air out and cough. Hold a pillow tightly against your incisions when you cough to help decrease pain. Repeat these steps 10 times every hour.
  • You may get out of bed and walk around the same day of surgery, or the day after. Movement will help prevent blood clots. You may also be given exercises to do in bed. Do not get out of bed on your own until your healthcare provider says you can. Talk to healthcare providers before you get up the first time. They may need to help you stand up safely. When you are able to get up on your own, sit or lie down right away if you feel weak or dizzy.
  • You will be able to eat and drink gradually after surgery. You will begin with ice chips or clear liquids such as water, broth, juice, and clear soft drinks. If your stomach does not become upset, you may then eat soft foods, such as ice cream and applesauce. Once you can eat soft foods easily, you may slowly begin to eat solid foods. Most people are able to eat normally the day after surgery.
  • Medicines:
    • Pain medicine will help decrease your pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you ask for more medicine.
    • Antinausea medicine will help calm your stomach and prevent vomiting.
    • Anticoagulants may be given to thin your blood if you are at risk for a blood clot.
    • NSAIDs decrease swelling and pain. This medicine can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people.


  • You could bleed more than expected or get an infection. Nausea and vomiting are common after this surgery. Any carbon dioxide gas that remains in your body can cause neck and shoulder pain. Your gallbladder may leak bile into your abdomen during or after surgery. This can cause a severe infection or an abscess.
  • You may still have gallstones after surgery, and you may need a different procedure to remove them. Your surgeon may need to make a larger incision than expected during surgery. There is a small risk that your bile duct, bowel, or other organs could be damaged during surgery. This can be life-threatening.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

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