Constipation after removal of the gallbladder is actually common, and is not an indication that something went wrong during the surgery.

For the procedure, an anesthetic is required to paralyze the bowel so that the gallbladder can be removed.

The paralysis of the bowel (sounds worse than it actually is) is what may cause constipation following gallbladder removal.

“Yes, paralytics agents can cause constipation,” says Nadeem Baig, MD, a board certified gastroenterologist and hepatologist at Monmouth Gastroenterology, a division of Allied Digestive Health.
“The other is paralytics, which not only stop any movement of muscles and limbs during surgery but also halt intestinal peristalsis (the contractions that move food and liquid down the intestines).
“Even when the effects wear off, it may take some time for the bowel function to get back to normal.”

This side effect may last a week or more.

An indirect cause of constipation following gallbladder removal “is a side effect of anesthesia or pain medications one takes after an operation,” says Dr. Baig.

If the patient is on narcotic painkillers such as Percocet or Vicodin, these may cause slower movement of the bowel — leading to constipation.

To combat backed-up stools or stools that are hard and difficult to void, the patient can take Colace, Metamucil or milk of magnesia, along with high fiber juice such as apple or prune to improve bowel movements.

Dr. Baig’s specialties include gastrointestinal cancers and liver disease, plus gallbladder, biliary tract and pancreatic disorders. He is an assistant clinical professor of medicine at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of NJ/Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  
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