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Gallbladder removal surgery is also known as a cholecystectomy. This is a common procedure that treats the pain and nausea of gallstones and prevents complications from developing. 

The gallbladder is a small organ that stores and collects bile to break down fatty foods and assist with digestion. It can become blocked and irritated by gallstones.  Specialist surgery can remove the gallbladder, resolve symptoms, and safeguard your health.

The London Clinic offers both a laparoscopic cholecystectomy and an open cholecystectomy by world-leading gastrointestinal surgeons. 

The consultants operate in our state-of-the-art theatres using the very latest equipment. Following your operation, the multi-disciplinary team will support your healthy recovery, monitor your digestive health, and offer expert dietetic guidance.

Graphic showing the position of the gallbladder in the body

What are gallstones?

Gallstones are pebble-like collections of cholesterol or other materials that form in the gallbladder. They are a common problem, especially in:

  • women
  • older people
  • those who are overweight
  • people who eat a high-fat diet. 

What are the symptoms of gallstones?

Lots of people with gallstones have no symptoms or problems. However, they can cause pain in the upper right abdomen, especially after fatty meals. Gallstones are linked to potentially serious complications, including:

  • Biliary colic: If a stone gets stuck, it can block bile flow, causing sudden severe cramping abdominal pain.
  • Cholecystitis: Gallstones can trigger inflammation in the gallbladder. This results in abdominal pain, yellow discolouration of the skin, dark urine and pale stools, and feeling feverish and unwell.
  • Pancreatitis: Gallstones can get stuck in the narrow tube between the pancreas and the gallbladder, causing inflammation in the pancreas. This is a serious and painful complication that needs urgent, expert care.

If you’re worried about gallstones, see your GP or make an appointment with the gastroenterology specialists at The London Clinic. Surgery can reduce pain and protect you from dangerous complications. 

When performed by experts, like the gastrointestinal surgeons at The London Clinic, a cholecystectomy is safe and straightforward. People can live, digest food, and function well without a gallbladder. 

Gallbladder Removal Surgery at The London Clinic

The London Clinic offers two all-inclusive treatment packages for gallbladder removal surgery.

Your surgeon will take a detailed medical history, examine you, and order investigations to assess your gallbladder and your fitness for surgery. They will then recommend the best surgery for your needs. This could be:

A laparoscopic Cholecystectomy

Most people can have minimally-invasive surgery to remove the gallbladder. Keyhole surgery offers a smaller scar, quicker discharge, and a faster recovery.

An open cholecystectomy

Open surgical removal of the gall bladder is the traditional treatment for gallbladder disease. The surgeon makes a single incision in the upper abdomen to remove the gallbladder.

This approach may be recommended if you’ve had multiple previous surgeries, if the gallbladder is inflamed, or if there are problems during the laparoscopy. 

There are risks with any operation. The experienced surgeons and staff at the London Clinic work hard to minimize these and support your safe recovery. Your consultant will discuss any problems associated with surgery and take time to answer your questions and address any concerns.

Gall Bladder Surgery facts

Laparoscopic Gallbladder Removal

A laparoscopic cholecystectomy is performed as day case surgery, under general anaesthetic. 

The surgeon will make several small incisions by your tummy button and on the right side of your abdomen. They will insert specially designed surgical instruments and a tiny digital camera on a laparoscope. The camera relays images to a computer screen, allowing the surgeon to visualise the gallbladder and surrounding structures. 

The surgeon will carefully excise the gallbladder, then close the incisions with stitches and apply dressings.

Open Gallbladder Removal

An open cholecystectomy is performed under general anaesthetic. You will usually need to stay in the hospital for two or three days after surgery so that your recovery can be monitored.

The surgeon will make a fine incision between 10 and 20cm in length in your upper abdomen. They will divide the muscles overlying the gallbladder, then carefully cut away and remove the gallbladder.

Finally, they will stitch the incision closed and cover the wound with a dressing.

Gallbladder Surgery Recovery

Your recovery from gallbladder removal surgery will depend on your operation and your general health. 

Following a laparoscopic cholecystectomy, you may feel some shoulder pain. The anaesthetist will give you painkillers to maintain your comfort. You will usually be able to go home on the same day.

However, it can take around two weeks to get back to work and normal activities. After one month, you can gradually reintroduce vigorous exercise.

Recovery following an open cholecystectomy is longer. After around three days, you can go home from hospital. However, it can take six to eight weeks to regain strength and fitness. 

The London Clinic team will provide support and guidance during your recovery. After surgery, many patients prefer small, light, lower-fat meals. The London Clinic provides specialist dietetic advice and care to help optimise your digestive health and wellbeing.

Why choose The London Clinic?

The London Clinic is dedicated to providing the best, personalised healthcare with over 600 world-renowned consultants available to offer informed health advice and treatment.

Spanning Harley Street and Devonshire Place, The London Clinic is situated in the heart of London’s internationally-known medical district. This central location, together with state-of-the art technologies and facilities that are not widely available in other hospitals, makes The London Clinic the hospital of choice for around 120,000 patients every year.

The London Clinic is an HTA licensed and JACIE accredited cancer centre with an ‘Excellent’ MacMillan Quality Environment Mark and with access to a Level 3 intensive care unit.

Offering affordable and competitive self-pay packages and expert support from Clinical Nurse Specialists and our specialised multidisciplinary team, over 98% of our patients said they would recommend The London Clinic to their friends and families.

Treatment cost

The London Clinic offers affordable, competitive self-pay packages for certain treatments. An All-Inclusive Package for this treatment is available from £5,310 (surgical removal) and from £6,325 (laparoscopic removal).

Patients have the option to spread the cost of treatment with Chrysalis Finance.

Please call +44 (0)20 3613 7502 to speak to our helpful team to find out more and to book an appointment.

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