How Having My Gallbladder Removed Affected My IBS
Last updated: June 2023
I was diagnosed with IBS almost 20 years ago. It was back before they labeled different types, but I have IBS-M. I have always had a mixed bag of symptoms and never knew what to expect. After surgery, I was surprised by what happened.
When I had my gallbladder removed, I expected things to change. Friends and family told me I would likely have frequent diarrhea and an urgent need to go after eating. All of them now have issues very similar to the symptoms of IBS-D. I expected episodes of IBS-C would end and I would be stuck in a permanent IBS-D flare.
1 week after gallbladder removal
During the first week, I was still dealing with quite a bit of air from the laparoscopic procedure. It is normal and causes quite a bit of gas as your body rids itself of the air added into your body during the procedure. I expected plenty of gas and bloating. That is exactly how it was.
I also had mostly loose stool the first week. This was expected for more than one reason. The day before I had my gallbladder removed, I had a colonoscopy and had 3 polyps removed. Along with the loose stool, I also had light bleeding for a few days. While bleeding is normal after having polyps removed, you would not have bleeding after gallbladder removal. Immediately report blood in your stool.
2 weeks after gallbladder removal
I finally began having solid stools. It was mostly soft, but it was solid. I was happy to have something more solid rather than almost pure liquid. I was still eating a low-fat diet. When I say low fat, I mean almost no fat because I was trying to make healing as easy as possible.
While I still had gas, it was getting less frequent and bloating was improving. I was terrified I was going to have more gas and bloating than usual every day for the rest of my life, and I was grateful to see some improvement.
3 weeks after gallbladder removal
The ridiculous amount of gas has finally cleared up as my body seems to have rid itself of the excess air introduced during surgery. I am so grateful to be back to my normal level of gas and bloating. I never thought I would be thankful to have for the bloating and gas I had most days.
Now, this is where my confusion started. I fully expected to be stuck in an IBS-D flare or something resembling it. I assumed I would no longer have IBS-C flares, and I was wrong. Week 3 brought an IBS-C standoff that lasted 3 days. I did not expect constipation.
Please note that I had not taken any type of painkiller since I came out of post-op. I know the side effect of prescription pain medication is constipation, but I had not taken anything other than 2 acetaminophen pills since I left post-op.
Has having my gallbladder removed changed my IBS?
It has been less than 4 weeks right now, but I have already experienced an IBS-C flare. In fact, I am still experiencing that flare and it has been almost a week since it started. I am confused by it as this was not at all what I expected. I honestly believed I would no longer have IBS-C flares, and I certainly didn’t expect to have one so soon after surgery.
Only time will tell how it will turn out, but for now, it seems my IBS was unchanged after having my gallbladder removed. One doctor told me I would likely have symptoms similar to what I have had all these years, but this doctor assumed I only had IBS-D symptoms. One doctor told me I may even see some improvement in IBS symptoms. As of right now, it seems nothing has changed. Have you had your gallbladder removed? What was your experience with IBS and gallbladder removal?
Which of the following symptoms of IBS do you experience most frequently?