Why did I have to avoid fatty foods after my gallbladder surgery?

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It is important to avoid fatty foods after gallbladder surgery because one of the functions of the gallbladder is to store bile, which is secreted into the intestines to help break down fatty foods as they are ingested. Although bile is still made by the liver and secreted into the intestines after the gallbladder is removed, there may not be enough available at one time to adequately break down all the fats ingested in a large, fatty meal. Undigested fats in the intestines can cause diarrhea.

Most people have enough bile produced by their liver to break down fatty foods sufficiently even without a gallbladder to store it and release it as needed. Others may need to avoid fats or eat them only in small amounts after their gallbladder is removed to avoid diarrhea.
Consuming a low-fat diet is often recommended after gallbladder surgery, especially during the first month or so after surgery, because when your gallbladder is first removed, digesting fatty foods can be particularly difficult.

Your gallbladder is located just under your liver in the upper right side of your abdomen. During normal digestion, your liver makes the digestive fluid bile and releases the bile into your gallbladder, which concentrates and stores the bile. When you eat a high-fat meal, your gallbladder releases some of that concentrated bile into your intestine.

If you have had surgery to remove your gallbladder, it can take about a month for your liver to adjust to no longer being able to depend on the gallbladder for bile storage and release. Since bile is needed most for digesting fat, if you eat high-fat foods during the first month after surgery, you may experience severe diarrhea and other problems because your liver isn't used to releasing bile into your intestine. About a month after your surgery, your liver may have adjusted and you may be able to eat fatty foods again and to resume life as before.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.