Lifestyle Changes After a Liver Transplant

By Medical Expert Team

Apr 24 , 2023 | 4 min read


What is a liver transplant?

A liver transplant is a surgical procedure to replace a damaged or diseased liver with a new healthy donor liver. The procedure lasts for approximately eight hours or longer. An individual is deemed fit for liver transplant surgery after meeting the liver transplant criteria.

Once the individual is discharged from the hospital after a satisfactory recovery, certain lifestyle changes must be undertaken to successfully return to the community.

How to stay fit after a liver transplant?

Staying fit after a liver transplant is crucial for a successful recovery. Lifestyle measures for complete acceptance of the new liver by the body include the following:

Avoid alcohol

  • Avoid or stop alcohol intake completely.
  • Those with a history of alcoholic liver disease should refrain from further alcohol consumption.
  • Those without a history of alcoholic liver disease must also avoid alcohol to help the new liver to be accepted by the body completely.
  • Use alternatives for alcohol in alcohol-based dishes or drinks.


Eating and drinking well

  • For a healthy start, one should go for whole grains, cereals, and bread.
  • Include plenty of fibre in the diet. Choose lean meat, poultry, and eggs over red meat.
  • Avoid grapefruit in any form. Have loads of fruits and veggies—a minimum of five servings per day.
  • Keep cholesterol and blood pressure in check with low sodium and a low-fat diet.
  • Keep the body hydrated with optimal water intake and fresh fruit juices.


Perform regular exercise

  • Exercise is important to maintain heart and muscle health. General body fitness is essential for a satisfactory recovery after a liver transplant.
  • Start with gentle exercises like light yoga, walking, cycling, etc.
  • A physiotherapist may provide supervised sessions for holistic rehabilitation and recovery.


Maintain a healthy weight

  • Maintaining a healthy weight averts further complications with liver health.
  • Nutritious food, optimal physical activity, and adequate hydration are essential for maintaining a healthy weight.


Wear sunscreen and be careful in the sun

  • Skin cancer after a liver transplant is common; therefore, one should take utmost care when moving out in the sun.
  • Wear sunscreen with SPF 50 for maximum protection.
  • People should cover their heads and exposed areas of their body with light-colored clothes.
  • Attend regular cancer screening tests.


Control blood pressure

  • Hypertension or high blood pressure is a common complication post a liver transplant surgery. 
  • Consume a low-sodium diet by reducing your intake of salt and spicy foods.
  • Exercise regularly to control blood pressure.


Keep your bones strong

  • Eat and drink calcium-rich food like dairy products, green leafy vegetables, etc.
  • Perform standing exercises like yoga, walking, etc., to boost bone generation.


Quit smoking

  • Tobacco from smoking may cause deterioration in general health in liver transplant patients.
  • Smoking also causes delayed wound healing.
  • The survival rate of individuals smoking after a liver transplant surgery has reduced considerably.


Medicines (immunosuppressants)

  • Immunosuppressive drugs are given to reduce the rejection rate of new liver and complications in the body.
  • One must take these drugs as per advice from their surgeon.
  • Driving should be resumed after three months post-surgery due to the risk of complications like vision abnormalities and reduced coordination and reaction time of the individual while driving.



  • Recovery from a liver transplant surgery takes six months to a year.
  • Regularly following up with the surgeon is necessary for optimal monitoring of the new liver and any complications.


Going back to work

  • One must consult their surgeon to return to work after a liver transplant.
  • Consult the surgeon before beginning work, driving, sports, sex, and pregnancy planning.

Which symptoms mean I should seek urgent medical help?

Infection and rejection of new liver are important complications post-liver transplant surgery. One should monitor for signs and symptoms like: 

  • Sudden fever with chills
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Cough, sore throat, and nasal congestion
  • Fatigue and muscle weakness


Also, Read About Precautions After Liver Transplant


A liver transplant surgery requires months of planning, and those that fit the liver transplant criteria undergo surgery. Recovery after the transplant depends on maintaining healthy body weight, nutrition, hydration, and physical activity. One must avoid alcohol and smoking and take utmost precautions while out in the sun. Any signs of infection must be reported immediately to avoid further complications.


1. Who is a liver transplant candidate?

liver transplant candidate is on the waiting list for a transplant.

2. What qualifies you for a liver transplant?

A liver transplant is done when the liver is damaged or diseased beyond the body's capacity for self-repair.

3. What disqualifies someone from a liver transplant?

An individual with a healthy but damaged liver, capable of sustaining itself for a few months or years, will be disqualified for a liver transplant.

4. Who gets priority for a liver transplant?

An individual gets priority for a liver transplant according to the severity of their liver disease.

5. What is the average wait time for a liver transplant?

The average wait time for a liver transplant can range from weeks to months or even longer.

6. What conditions can a liver transplant treat?

Liver cirrhosis and liver failure are treated with liver transplant surgery.

7. How long can you live without a liver transplant?

With complete liver failure, people can live for a day or two without liver transplant surgery.

8. How common are liver transplants?

As of today, more than 1800 liver transplants are performed annually in India.

9. How are donor livers matched with transplant recipients?

Donors are matched with recipients based on blood groups. Other criteria include BMI, no other disease, age, and physical health of the donor.

10. How much liver is needed for a liver transplant?

One liver lobe is required for liver transplant surgery.

11. Where do donate livers come from?

Donated livers come from dead and living donors.

12. How does living liver donation work?

A living person can donate some portion of their liver, after which the liver cells regenerate to become whole again.

13. How serious is liver transplant surgery?

A liver transplant is a major surgery with a 25% chance of death within the first five years of surgery.

14. What is the risk of a liver transplant?

The major risk of liver transplant surgery is new liver rejection in the recipient's body.

15. How is life after a liver transplant?

Life after a liver transplant surgery consists of attaining fitness, taking adequate precautions, and maintaining mental well-being.

Written and Verified by:

Medical Expert Team