Surgery to remove the gallbladder is a common procedure and is often performed laparoscopically, a minimally invasive surgical technique. Most patients go home the same day, and can return to normal activities the next day. The procedure takes about an hour, and most people experience little or no pain after surgery.
In this article, we’ll discuss what gallbladder surgery entails, how long it takes, and what you can expect after the procedure.
What is Gallbladder Surgery?
Gallbladder surgery is a procedure to remove the gallbladder, a small, pear-shaped organ that stores bile, a digestive fluid produced by the liver. The gallbladder is not essential for digestion, and many people live without one without any problems.
There are several reasons why someone might need to have their gallbladder removed. The most common reason is gallstones, hard deposits of cholesterol or other substances that can form in the gallbladder. Gallstones can cause pain, inflammation, and infection.
Other reasons for gallbladder surgery include cancer, inflammation of the gallbladder (cholecystitis), and blockage of the bile ducts.
How is Gallbladder Surgery Performed?
Gallbladder surgery is usually performed laparoscopically, which is a minimally invasive surgical technique. During a laparoscopic procedure, the surgeon makes several small incisions in the abdomen and inserts a tiny camera, called a laparoscope.
The camera is used to guide the surgeon as he or she removes the gallbladder through one of the incisions. This type of surgery is less invasive than traditional surgery and has a shorter recovery time.
In some cases, traditional surgery may be necessary. This is typically the case if the gallbladder is very large, inflamed, or if there are other complicating factors.
During traditional surgery, the surgeon makes a large incision in the abdomen and removes the gallbladder through the opening. This type of surgery is more invasive and has a longer recovery time.
Gallbladder surgery or cholecystectomy takes at least one to two hours, depending on the procedure. There are two kinds of this surgery:
- Open surgery is the traditional surgical approach. The surgeon will cut you with an incision that is four to eight inches long. Then, he will access and extract the gallbladder.
This type of gallbladder surgery requires lengthier hospitalization and recovery. It also retains a longer scar.
The surgeon might still perform this if the patient had recent surgeries and the gallbladder is difficult to reach. Five out of one hundred keyhole surgeries revert to open surgeries because of these issues.
- Keyhole surgery is the most recent and advanced gallbladder extraction procedure. Here, the surgeon makes cuts that are at least three centimetres long.
From these incisions, he will inflate your abdomen with carbon dioxide gas. This technique will make it easier to reach and remove the gallbladder.
Then, he will enter a camera-equipped tube into the other hole. Once the surgeon gains proper vision of the gallbladder, he will insert the tools for the extraction.
As the operation ends, the surgeon will remove the carbon dioxide gas and close the wounds.
The type of surgery for gallbladder removal depends on the patient’s condition. You may also choose which procedure to take. But the keyhole gallbladder is safer, quicker, and easier to heal.
Either way, you will feel no pain because of the general anesthesia. Since this chemical lingers after the surgery, you also need to plan how you will return home. It is wise to have someone accompany you leave the hospital.
The patient’s recovery also depends on the type of gallbladder procedure. The surgeon also sets different task resumption schedules based on the patient’s health and improvement.
- Open surgery requires patients to stay at the hospital for at least four days. They will fully heal and fulfil their normal activities after more than a month. As much as possible, they should stay out of work till then.
- Keyhole surgery patients can go home on the same day they had surgery. They will also recover much quicker, after two weeks. These patients can eat and walk with care immediately.
Gallbladder surgery is among the safest procedures offered in hospitals. The risk of human error or death in the operating room is negligible as well. But like every surgery, gallbladder removal carries risks and temporary side effects.
- Days after the surgery, you may experience pain and swelling in the wound area. The surgeon will prescribe pain medication to help you endure.
- The general anesthesia’s effects might during the day you had surgery. These side effects include irritability, dizziness, and fatigue.
- If you had keyhole gallbladder surgery, your shoulders and torso might still feel the strain from the carbon dioxide pumped there.
- As your digestive system adapts to the absence of the gallbladder, you might experience diarrhea. You can eat fruits and vegetables to help with your bowel. The surgeon may also prescribe treatments for you.
You should contact your physician or surgeon immediately if you experience these:
- The pain becomes more severe and intolerable despite the painkillers;
- You have a fever;
- The earlier symptoms of the disease reappear;
- You vomit excessively;
- There is an infection, too much bleeding, or pus on the wound;
- Your eyes turn yellow; and
- Your poo is pale.
The patient should listen carefully when the physicians teach him about taking care of the wound. He will learn when he can shower again and how to keep the incision clean.
Most of the time, surgeons utilize stitches that dissolve by themselves. However, if this is not the case, the patient must meet the surgeon again after ten days. He will manually pull the stitches in this appointment.
The gallbladder helps the liver by collecting bile. This chemical helps the digestive system break down fat. According to anatomy, the gallbladder is not vital for our health. So surgeons extract it if it puts the patient’s life in danger.
Stones can develop inside the gallbladder because of chemical imbalance. At first, they do not show symptoms. But when they grow enough to damage the gallbladder, they cause intense pain.
Other diseases and complications also require gallbladder surgery. Examples include:
- Swelling of the gallbladder;
- Damage in the stomach walls;
- Cirrhosis and hypertension in the liver; and
- Bleeding and scarring in the gallbladder;
At first, physicians might recommend nonsurgical medication, hoping that these will disintegrate the gallstones. Unfortunately, surgery remains the most successful treatment for this disease.
The surgeon ensures that the patient can go through the surgery with the least risk. Because of this, his health will get assessed, tested, and checked. These will also determine the preferable kind of surgery.
During the patient’s appointments, he can ask the surgeon about the operation. This way, he will learn the details about gallbladder surgery. The surgeon will also inform him about the requirements of gallbladder removal.
One can live without a gallbladder. The liver will still function as usual. The only difference is that the bile will pass through the intestines with the food. It will no longer get stored since the gallbladder is gone.
During the preparation and recovery, the patient will carefully consume specific diets. High fibre foods and fruits assist the digestive system in adjusting without the gallbladder. These may also relieve the patient’s diarrhea.
But after these periods, gallbladder surgery patients can eat like before. However, they should keep a proper diet.
The patient should be mindful of possible complications. If he becomes careless with his lifestyle, he might suffer the consequences. These include hemorrhaging, chemical imbalance, infections, and liver damage.
It is a must to consult the surgeon about gallbladder surgery.
Gallbladder surgery is a common procedure, and most people don’t experience complications from it. The surgery usually takes less than an hour, and you can usually go home the same day. You may have some pain and discomfort for a few days after the surgery, but this should go away with time.
It’s important to follow your doctor’s instructions for taking care of yourself after the surgery. If you have any concerns or problems, be sure to call your doctor. We hope this article helped answer your question, “How long does gallbladder surgery take?”
- How long does gallbladder surgery take?
Gallbladder surgery usually takes between 30 and 90 minutes.
- How long will I be in the hospital?
Most people who have gallbladder surgery can go home the same day. However, some people may need to stay in the hospital overnight.
- What can I expect after gallbladder surgery?
After gallbladder surgery, you may feel some pain and discomfort. Your doctor will prescribe pain medication to help you manage this. You may also have some nausea and vomiting. These side effects usually go away within a few days.
- When can I return to my normal activities?
You should be able to return to your normal activities within a week or so. However, you may need to avoid strenuous activity for a few weeks.
- Are there any risks associated with gallbladder surgery?
As with any surgery, there are some risks associated with gallbladder surgery. These include bleeding, infection, and reaction to anesthesia. However, these risks are usually low.