ZocdocAnswersI just had a gallbladder removed. I've not started having bowel movements. When can I expect those to return?

Question

I just had a gallbladder removed. I've not started having bowel movements. When can I expect those to return?

It was done on Thursday and it was a very inflamed gallbladder with no infection, but I've not started having bowel movements .. when can I expect those to return?

Answer

It sounds like you're having an episode of constipation after your surgery. For all postoperative issues, I would suggest that you schedule an appointment with your surgeon. This is quite common. Having your gallbladder removed itself is not a cause of constipation. In fact, with the removal of your gallbladder, it is more likely that you might experience diarrhea in the future. I think that the fact that you have not started having bowel movements again probably has more to do with the medications you are taking for pain than it has to do with the gallbladder itself. If you are on significant opioid pain medications such as oxycodone, Dilaudid, or morphine, these can all cause constipation. This is why we often prescribed stool softener's and laxatives to go along with these medications to prevent constipation in the postoperative period. Again, I would suggest that you schedule an appointment with your surgeon. Your surgeon needs to be aware that you have not had a bowel movement yet, because this can produce problems if it goes on for too long. Your doctor will likely start by prescribing certain types of laxatives such as docusate, Senna, and Miralax. These will most likely help out quite a bit. In addition, if you are still on narcotic pain medications, you need to weed yourself off of these to help return your bowel to its normal function. Please speak with your doctor.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.