What To Expect During And After Your Gallbladder Removal Surgery

If you have been living with gallbladder pain for a while, you may actually be looking forward to your gallbladder surgery, since afterwards you will be in a lot less pain. Still, this is a surgical procedure, so it is normal to be a bit apprehensive and to wonder what you can expect. Here's a look at how things generally proceed once you check in to the hospital and as you recover.

The Day of Your Surgery

Your doctor will likely give you some instructions to follow the days before surgery. Specifically, you'll be told to fast for at least 12 hours before you're scheduled to arrive at the hospital. Make sure you follow these instructions closely, since eating too close to the procedure can lead to anesthesia side effects. 

When you get to the hospital, your nurses will take your vital signs and get you changed into a surgical gown. When your surgeon is ready, you'll be wheeled into the surgical room. An IV will be put into your arm, and then an anesthetic solution will be dripped into the IV. You'll drift off to sleep, unaware of anything else until you awake after the procedure.

Almost all gallbladder surgeries are performed laparoscopically these days, which means that surgical tools are inserted through small incisions. While you are out, your surgeon will make four such incisions in your abdomen. A camera will be inserted in one incision, and surgical tools through the others. Your gallbladder will be cut away and pulled out through one of the incisions. Once the interior tissues are stitched up, your surgeon will suture the incisions, and you'll be allowed to wake up.

After Surgery

Laparoscopic surgery is not nearly as invasive as traditional surgery, so you might be surprised how good you feel once you wake up. You will probably need to spend at least a day in the hospital for evaluation, and during that time, you may be given pain relievers to keep you comfortable as well as antibiotics to ward off infection.

When you return home, you will generally be given prescription pain relievers and antibiotics to continue taking. For about two weeks, you will need to mostly rest, avoiding any strenuous activities. After this time, you can slowly start resuming your normal routine. Your doctor will schedule regular checkups and will keep you updated as to when you can resume activities like cleaning the house and working out. Most people return to work one to two weeks after surgery, though you may need to take more time off if you have a very active job. 

Usually, dissolving stitches are used in gallbladder surgery, so you won't need to return to your doctor to have the stitches removed. However, you will need to change your bandages and keep the incisions clean until they heal, which is generally about two weeks.

It's normal to be quite bloated for a few days after gallbladder surgery. Your doctor will recommend a high-fiber diet, rich in veggies and whole grains, in order to help ease this bloating. You will have to follow a low-fat diet once your gallbladder has been removed. Your doctor should give you a concise list of foods you should avoid eating and those which you should eat more often. Generally, you'll need to avoid fried foods, fatty meats, full-fat dairy, and excessive oils.

Gallbladder surgery is a rather common procedure that surgeons perform regularly. The vast majority of patients recover well with few to no complications. If you have any additional concerns, don't hesitate to bring them up to your surgeon before your procedure. Contact a general surgeon at a medical facility like Van Wert County Hospital for more information.