Tips To Follow After Your Gallbladder Surgery
Cholecystectomy is the medical term for gallbladder surgery. This is typically done with a medical device called a laparoscope. The scope has a small video camera on the end and is inserted into the abdomen along with long, precision surgical tools to carefully remove the gallbladder while creating minimal, small incisions.
The recovery from laparoscopic surgery is much faster and less complicated than from open surgery as it was done in the past. Recovery will take about 1 to 3 weeks for most people, compared with 6 or more after open surgery and the long, visible scarring of past methods is avoided. There will be some discomfort and restrictions to be aware of after you heal however and knowing what to plan for will help ensure that you have an optimal recovery.
Directly after gallbladder surgery, you may experience pain in your abdomen. You may also feel pain radiate to one or both shoulders. The surgeon will inflate your abdomen with air during surgery to help visualize and access internal structures. The excess air left behind will eventually be reabsorbed however its presence can be quite uncomfortable. It should resolve within a week.
Nausea is a common problem post op which can be managed with anti-emetic medication and small, light meals.
Many people experience loose stools after eating post operatively. This side effect may last many weeks as your digestive system adjusts.
Minor bruising may be present on the abdomen for 1-2 weeks and your incisions will close and heal within roughly 2 weeks as well. Initially, incisions may appear red but kept clean this should resolve well. You may have sutures closing your incisions or sticky pieces of tape called steri strips. They are meant to stay on for at least a week while you heal. Talk to your surgeon about any topical care advised.
You may start walking right after gallbladder surgery. Walking helps reduce the risk of blood clots in the legs post operatively. You may feel stiff and uncomfortable. Take it slow and ease back into light daily activity as advised by your doctor.
As long as you are not taking narcotic pain medication you will likely be able to drive within a couple of days. Patients usually return to a desk job within a week as well, but more strenuous work will require more time off.
After Laparoscopic surgery patients can usually eat a normal diet but avoiding high fat, greasy food may be advised for the first month. It can be helpful to gradually reintroduce foods a small amount at a time so that you can keep track of what may be difficult for you to digest. You can expect a follow up appointment at 1-2 weeks.
Some symptoms to watch for which are not expected are.
- An elevated temperature over 101°F (38.3°C).
- Surgical wounds which are bleeding, increasingly red or which have discharge.
- Difficulty breathing or persistent cough.
- Pain which is not alleviated with prescribed medication.
- Yellow skin or eyes.
- Grey stool.
- Difficulty eating.
- Call your doctor right away if you have any of these issues.