Gallbladder removal surgery is one of the most commonly performed surgeries. The procedure is also known as a cholecystectomy. Gallbladder surgery is usually performed to solve problems that are associated with gallstones. Gallstones are hardened deposits of the digestive fluid present in the gallbladder. Gallstones become more common as people age. More than 600,000 gallstones are removed each year by doctors. The purpose of gallstone removal is to get rid of the pain, which is a very uncomfortable condition.
The gallbladder is a pear-shaped organ that is found on the right side just below your liver. The gallbladder functions as a storage unit for bile juice, which is needed for the digestion of fats. It concentrates bile juice that your liver manufactures.
When you develop problems that are associated with the gallbladder, a cholecystectomy is performed to take it out. Not having a gallbladder is not a serious issue as most doctors believe that you do not need it to live normally.
Reasons for the Procedure
Having painful gallstones is the main reason why a cholecystectomy is carried out. These gallstones frequently form due to the imbalance of the various substances that make up the bile juice. Gallstones rarely cause symptoms, and you might not know if you have them. However, they might occasionally hinder the smooth flow of the bile juice and cause inflammation of the gallbladder. This condition is called as acute cholecystitis. When the pancreas is inflamed, the condition is known as acute pancreatitis. These two conditions may cause symptoms such as the overall feeling of being sick, yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice), or sudden and intense abdominal pain.
Occasionally, gallstones may be dissolved by taking medications. However, a gallbladder removal surgery is mostly recommended as the treatment of choice in many cases.
Removing the Gallbladder Through Surgery
There are two methods used for the removal of the gallbladder. They are laparoscopic cholecystectomy and open cholecystectomy.
In a laparoscopic surgery, a small incision or cut will be made in your stomach and a delicate surgical equipment is used to locate and remove the gallbladder. In an open cholecystectomy, a single but relatively larger cut is made in your tummy to find and remove the gallbladder.
Keyhole or laparoscopic surgery is often recommended as it takes a lesser time as compared to an open surgery. Moreover, you can be discharged from the hospital the moment you are done. The recovery is also faster and smaller scars are left. An open surgery typically leaves you with a relatively larger scar due to the significant cuts that were made.
The two methods are carried out under general anesthesia, which means that you will be unconscious during the process and you will experience less pain. However, after the surgery, you may experience drowsiness due to the effect of the anesthesia.
Recovery from the Operation
The length of time that will take you to recover will depend on the type of operation carried out. Whether it is a keyhole surgery or an open surgery, the recovery period will be different. Upon completion of the keyhole surgery, most patients will be discharged on the same day. However, normal activities will be resumed after two to three weeks. After an open surgery, the doctor will recommend that you stay for five more days, and the recovery period is longer. You will then return to your normal activities about six to eight weeks after the surgery.
In both cases, arrange for someone to pick you up after your hospital discharge. To be safe, somebody should accompany you for 24 hours after the operation if you are discharged on the same day.
After surgery, your liver will still manufacture bile, but there will be some difficulties when processing fatty foods. However, there is no need for you to worry since it will only be for a while. The indigestion of fats is commonly reported by patients who have undergone a gallbladder removal surgery.
Follow these five important tips to avoid discomforts after the operation:
1. Gradually add foods to your diet.
After the first few days of the operation, consume fluids. Liquid foods, gelatin, and broth can be consumed. Do not rush on going back to your regular diet. After having a liquid diet, you can slowly include solid foods in your meals.
2. Go for foods that have low-fat content.
It is highly recommended to avoid foods that are high in fats such as fried foods. Gas-causing foods and those that have strong odors are also discouraged. You should, therefore, have a low-fat diet. Your calorie intake must be below 30 percent of your total daily consumption. For instance, when eating about 1,800 calories, you should not consume fatty foods that exceed 60 grams. Foods that offer less than 3 grams of fat per meal are highly recommended. These foods should also be eaten in small proportions.
3. Avoid eating high-fat foods.
The consumption of wrong foods can cause bloating, pain, and diarrhea. High-fat foods or spicy foods should be avoided. They include foods such as sausages, ground beef, fries, potato chips, whole milk, cheese, ice cream, butter, pizza, and chocolates, among others. Avoiding these foods will prevent the problems of indigestion.
4. Exercise regularly.
Doing exercises such as gentle walking can make your healing process faster. These gentle walks will relieve you from gas pains. Try to do relaxing activities such as controlled breathing techniques, meditation, and self-hypnosis to decrease the level of anxiety and ease the pain. However, do not push yourself too hard as doing strenuous exercises may cause further injuries to your wounds.
5. Eat high-fiber foods.
High-fiber foods will avoid constipation. Constipation cases may result from the drugs used to relieve pain. High-fiber foods include beans, nuts, wholegrain rice, cereals, and cabbage, among others. The reintroduction of these high-fiber foods should be taken in small proportions.
Track Your Recovery by Having a Food Journal
Having a food journal will assist you in keeping track on when and what you have eaten after the surgery. Furthermore, it will show how your body responds to these foods. Therefore, you can easily track the foods that you should avoid and the foods that you should consume.
After approximately one month, you can resume your regular diet if no complications arise. However, ensure to contact your doctor if the recovery process is not going as planned. Call your doctor immediately if you experience past symptoms with an increased pain, swelling or redness from a wound, dark urine, pale stools, and a high fever above 38 degrees Celsius.
Living Without a Gallbladder
An absolutely normal life is possible even if you do not have a gallbladder. The reason is that your liver will continue to manufacture bile for the digestion of fats, and instead of it being stored, it will continually flow into the digestive system.
It is also recommended that you have a balanced healthy diet. Make sure that you contact your doctor in case you observe anything unusual after your surgery.