Recovery After Gallbladder Removal Surgery
You will wake up feeling drowsy in the operating theatre’s recovery area. You will then be taken back to the ward. There will be some pain and sickness for 12 to 24 hours, but you will be given medications for this. Some bruising and slight oozing of blood around the cuts is normal. Once you are fully awake, you will be encouraged to walk around and drink fluids. You should then be able to eat something light a few hours later.
You will be given pain killers. Please take them as prescribed. Ask Mr Karametos about the care of your wounds. In most instances your cuts will be closed with glue or with self-dissolving stitches under the skin. Waterproof dressings allow for short showers after the surgery. Some pain and mild bruising around the wounds is normal.
Recovery Timeline After Gallbladder Surgery
Usually patients can go home the same or next day post-operatively. One week off work is sufficient for sedentary workers. For those who do heavy lifting, Mr Karametos advises three weeks off to allow the umbilical wound to settle and strengthen. If you want to go to the gym, wait for 2 weeks, and then re-start gently. You will need 5 days before returning to driving. When recovering from a gallbladder operation, If doing something hurts your tummy, then stop doing it.
Surprisingly, removal of the gallbladder seems to have no effect on the digestive process in the vast majority of patients who undergo this operation. The bile trickles steadily into the gut and helps digest the fatty foods. The digestive system just adapts to the absence of the gallbladder. You should be able to continue eating normally after the operation. You do not need to modify your diet because your gallbladder has been removed.
Diarrhoea After Gallbladder Surgery
A small number of people develop frequent loose, watery stools after surgery to remove their gallbladders. In most cases, the diarrhoea resolves soon afterwards. Rarely, it may last longer. The cause of diarrhoea after gallbladder removal is not known. It may be due to more bile acids entering the intestine and acting as a laxative. Please contact Mr Karametos's rooms and we may advise you to try anti-diarrhoeal medications and cut down on foods that can worsen diarrhoea in general, including dairy products, very greasy or sweet foods, and caffeine.
Every operation inevitably carries a small element of risk, but your surgeon, anaesthetist and nurses will take great care to prevent complications. The likelihood of complications after an operation to remove the gall bladder is very low. There some risks associated with the general anaesthetic, including pneumonia, heart problems, and blood clots in the leg veins and lungs.
If you find any redness or discharge in the wound, get an unusual amount of pain, develop a fever, or develop jaundice (your eyes and skin look yellow), do contact Mr Karametos's rooms or the hospital, as these may be signs of a wound infection or other complications.
Around 95% of patients are well and free of symptoms after a cholecystectomy. In a small number of patients the old symptoms may persist, or new symptoms may develop. The term post-cholecystectomy syndrome is sometimes used to describe this situation. The first thing to consider is were the initial symptoms caused not by the gallstones but by some other problem that was not picked up (such as acid reflux or a peptic ulcer or chronic pancreatitis). Further tests may be required to diagnose these, for example an endoscopy. The second possibility is that there may be a gallstone that has been left behind, perhaps in the bile duct. Blood tests and an ultrasound or MRCP scan can clarify this, and an endoscopic procedure (ERCP) can usually be done to remove the stone.
These are rare problems, but if and when they do occur, you need to have a detailed discussion with Mr Karametos. A careful history and examination, and the correct tests, can often help find the underlying cause, which can then be treated.
Further Reading (ref: American College of Surgeons)
Please read Cholecystectomy- Patient Education for a comprehensive overview of this procedure, which includes surgery preparation and recovery after the gallbladder operation.
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