Just like any major surgery, a cholecystectomy (gallbladder removal) is no small matter. And while you may recover quickly, it doesn't necessarily mean you're ready to return to exercise right away.
Learn what to expect with your recovery process and when it's safe to return to exercise after gallbladder removal surgery.
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It can't be said enough: Everyone's body is different, so your post-op recovery protocol may be unique. Before you return to the gym or try new exercise after your cholecystectomy, it's best to consult your doctor.
Gallbladder Removal Recovery
Everyone's body is different, so it can take a few days or a few weeks until you start feeling back to normal after surgery, according to the UNC School of Medicine. Most likely, though, you can expect to feel a little pain or tenderness in your abdomen for a few days and your doctor may even prescribe pain medications.
After the procedure, most can return to their normal eating habits but your doctor may recommend a bland diet in the initial days after the operation. Typically, post-op patients do well with easily-digestible foods, like bananas, rice, pasta or toast.
While most patients feel strong enough to return to work just a few weeks after surgery, that's not necessarily the case for everyone, per the UNC School of Medicine. This timeframe depends on the type of job — a person who works at a desk may return to work sooner than someone who works in a warehouse. So, those who need some extra recovery time, can likely get a note from their healthcare professional.
All that being said, different patients can expect different recovery timelines and protocols. It's best to listen to your doctor's recommendations and consult a healthcare professional before trying new foods or pain medication.
When Can I Start Exercising After Gallbladder Removal?
You may feel pretty good after your surgery but that doesn't mean you should jump right back into the gym, according to the UNC School of Medicine. At the very least, you want to feel absolutely no pain or sensitivity before returning to exercise. Again, this timeline varies from person to person but waiting at least two weeks is recommended.
Weightlifting right after gallbladder surgery isn't recommended for at least a few weeks. More specifically, avoid lifting more than 10 pounds (a gallon of water), as it can be overly strenuous. You also shouldn't feel any pain or sensitivity in your abdomen while you exercise (and if you do, you should probably stop your workout routine and talk to a doctor).
Plus, many cardio workouts and strength exercises involve twisting and bending over (like deadlifts or squats). These motions aren't the best right after a cholecystectomy, as they can put your midsection in an uncomfortable position.
Less intense forms of exercise, like walking, are a little safer after a surgery. But again, only walk as far and as long as feels comfortable, recommends the UNC School of Medicine.
Before you return to exercise after your surgery, it's best to consult your doctor. They can help you build a safe workout plan to help ensure your body recovers properly.
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.