Can You Lose Weight After a Cholecystectomy?

If you're overweight and have just had your gallbladder removed in an operation known as a cholecystectomy, you may be wondering if the operation will make your weight-loss goals tougher to achieve. The good news is, people who have had their gallbladders removed often lose weight naturally. However, you'll still need to watch what you eat and potentially even count calories to achieve a significant weight loss.

Doctors with a patient. (Image: Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Post-Surgery Guidelines

Most surgeons use what are called laparoscopic techniques to remove gallbladders, minimizing the size of your incision and shortening your recovery time. It's likely that your physician or dietitian provided you with diet instructions to use after surgery. If you want to lose weight, these dietary guidelines should be the core of your weight-loss effort. Check with your physician or dietitian before making alterations to the diet she gave you.

Diet Basics

Since your gallbladder helps you to digest fat, you're likely to have difficulty with fatty foods following your cholecystectomy. In fact, many cholecystectomy patients lose weight simply because they no longer enjoy their fatty food favorites, such as ice cream and fatty cuts of meat. You may find your tolerance to fat in your diet increases over time to near-normal levels, or you may not.

Food Choices

The diet recommended post-surgery for cholecystectomy patients closely resembles a low-fat diet recommended for weight loss. You should eat lean meats, poultry and fish, and low-fat instead of full-fat dairy. Fill most of your plate with fruits, vegetables and whole-grain foods. Don't consume more than about 3 tbsp. of oils or fats such as butter, margarine or olive oil in a day. If you follow this type of diet, you may start to see excess weight fall off without needing to resort to calorie counting.


Despite this low-fat diet, some people do find they gain weight following their cholecystectomies. If you're already overweight and find yourself gaining, not losing, talk with your doctor or a dietitian about your diet and weight-loss efforts. You may find that you're simply eating too much and need to cut back. You also may find that you need to add exercise to your routine to aid in your diet efforts and to increase your overall health.

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