The length of recovery from gallbladder surgery (also called cholecystectomy) depends on the type of procedure.
Patients of keyhole surgery may leave the hospital on the same day, and they will wait for at least two weeks to fully heal.
But it is much longer for open surgery patients. They have to wait for three to five days to exit the hospital. It will also take them at least a month and a half to fully recover.
Whether the treatment was a keyhole surgery or an open surgery, someone should accompany the patient in leaving the hospital. The anesthesia might also linger after the outpatient procedure.
The UK National Health Service website reassures patients that living without a gallbladder does not have long term effects. But they should expect the surgery’s brief side effects. These are normal, so there is no need for concern.
- The wound may become painful and swollen in the first few days. Painkillers and medication can relieve the patient.
- The anesthetic might make the patient feel sick, tired, irritable, and dizzy for a brief moment after waking up from the surgery.
- The patient’s gut and shoulders might feel pain because of the gas used during the surgery.
- During the weeks of recovery, the patient might experience loose stool and flatulence. The patient should eat fruits, vegetables, and meals with high fibre. Prescribed treatments can also improve the patient’s bowel.
If the pain and side effects are severe and worsening, the patient must contact his physician or surgeon. These are the signs of gallbladder surgery complications:
- The symptoms before the surgery start to come back.
- The pain is severe and unbearable.
- The body temperature is higher than 38°C.
- The patient keeps on vomiting.
- There is discharge from the wound.
- The skin and eyes become yellow.
- The urine has darker colours, and the stool is pale.
Before the patient leaves the hospital, the physicians and nurses will inform him about this. They will teach him how to clean the wound, how much dressing should he place, and when he can bathe again.
Most surgeons use dissolvable stitches for gallbladder surgery. These disappear by themselves after at least two weeks.
But if they used non-dissolvable stitches, patients have to return within ten days. In that appointment, a nurse or surgeon will remove the stitches.
Surgeons might provide different recovery schedules depending on the patient’s health and condition.
But, as mentioned earlier, keyhole surgery patients enjoy quicker recovery. They can eat a typical meal and walk around right away. They may also drive after a week and return to work after at least ten days. But they should still be careful not to overexert themselves.
Traditional gallbladder surgery patients have to wait much longer. For example, they cannot return to work within a month or two.
The gallbladder is a part of the digestive system. Its role is to store bile which helps the liver process fat. Because it is not crucial in the body, surgeons willingly remove the gallbladder once it develops issues.
One of these problems is gallstones. These form over time because of the chemicals in bile, but they have no symptoms until they clog the gallbladder or pancreas. When this happens, the patient will experience intense aches and jaundice.
In some cases, medication can melt gallstones. But surgery by far is the most effective intervention.
Before the surgery, the patient will undergo health assessments like blood tests and checkups. The result will show if the surgery is suitable and what type of operation is most applicable.
The patient will also have an appointment with a physician or surgeon. Here, the patient may ask and raise concerns. He will learn crucial information about the procedure and precautions, like not smoking and fasting the night before.
Depending on the patient’s preference and health, the surgeon may conduct two types of surgery:
In a keyhole gallbladder surgery, the surgeon makes tiny incisions in the patient’s abdomen. These cuts are about three centimetres in diameter.
Then, the surgeon will also pump carbon dioxide inside. Making the abdomen wider can make it more accessible for the surgeon. He will insert the laparoscope, a tube with a camera and a flashlight.
Afterwards, the surgeon will insert the surgical instruments to take the gallbladder out. Finally, he will release the gas and close the wound.
During an open gallbladder surgery, the surgeon makes a wider cut. The wound is between ten to twenty centimetres in diameter. From this incision, the surgeon will remove the gallbladder.
An open gallbladder surgery might be necessary if the patient has scar tissue from past operations. The surgeon might also decide to do this if he cannot properly access the gallbladder.
But this operation will leave a worse scar. Hospital stay and recovery time is also much longer.
The patient will receive general anesthesia before these operations.
Before and after the surgery, the patient must eat a controlled diet. This regimen helps their digestive system prepare and adjust to the changes in bile. As the patient recovers, he might experience diarrhea, so foods with high fibre can help.
But someone can live without a gallbladder as if nothing has changed. The liver can still digest the food with bile, and this chemical will go down with the food instead of being stored.
Like the rest of us, people without a gallbladder should strive to eat healthy diets.
This operation is relatively safe. But like every surgery conducted now, it has risks and potential complications. These include infections, bile imbalance, clotting, and damage in some of the liver ducts.
Before the operation, the patient should ask the surgeon about its advantages and risks.