Following gallbladder removal, the diarrhea that may occur can take weeks to months to go away, says Akram Alashari, MD, abdominal surgeon and critical care physician, Department of Surgery, College of Medicine, University of Florida.

“Diarrhea following cholecystectomy has been reported in 5 to 12 percent of patients,” he says. The diarrhea will “resolve or significantly improve over the course of weeks to months.”

What causes diarrhea after gallbladder removal?

Dr. Alashari explains, “The diarrhea is related to excessive bile acids entering the colon. In the absence of a gallbladder, bile drains directly and more continuously into the small bowel, which may overcome the terminal ileum’s reabsorptive capacity. The increased bile acids in the colon lead to diarrhea (cholerheic diarrhea).

Treatment for diarrhea following gallbladder removal:

“Patients often respond to treatment with bile-acid binding resins such as cholestyramine. Cholestyramine doses of up to 4 g daily have been suggested for the treatment of chronic diarrhea, though it is reasonable to start patients on a lower dose (e.g., 2 g once or twice daily) and titrate to a higher dose as needed.”