Diet and Nutrition

Recovery from a Gallbladder Surgery

Recovery from a Gallbladder Surgery

Key Takeaways

  • After a gallbladder removal surgery, you may experience a few changes in your digestion. 
  • The removal of the gallbladder has no long-term side effects as you can perfectly live without one.
  • If you notice any unusual changes in your bowel pattern, you need to consult your doctor immediately.

You may be given pain relievers as you wait for the anesthesia to wear off after your gallbladder removal surgery. After surgery, you will be transferred to a recovery room where your condition will be monitored as you are given some time to rest.

During a keyhole operation, carbon dioxide gas is pumped into your abdomen. For this reason, you may experience bloating after the operation and pain in the area around your shoulders. However, the pain usually goes away after two days.

You may be discharged on the same day of surgery depending on what type of surgery you had and what time the surgery started. You should arrange for someone to drive you back home and ensure that you are accompanied by a friend or family member for the next 24 hours after your operation.

Before you leave the hospital, your doctor may provide you with a prescription of pain relievers and antibiotics. Your doctor will also instruct you on how to look after your surgical wound. You also have to make sure that you follow your doctor's prescription to be on the safe side. A scheduled follow-up appointment will also be included in the doctor's discharge orders after your surgery.

The administration of a general anesthesia may have some side effects on you after surgery. It may affect your thinking and vision. You should not drink alcohol, drive, sign any important documents, and operate machinery after the procedure. These side effects should not last for more than 48 hours.

A nurse will give you an appointment to remove your stitches in case metal clips were used. This type of surgery, however, always uses dissolvable stitches in most cases and may not need to be removed. Enquire about the stitches before you leave the hospital. The time when the clips will be removed depends on an individual. However, it is normally done after seven days.

Recovery from a Gallbladder Removal

In the case of a keyhole surgery, your full recovery should take about two to three weeks. You and your doctor will discuss on when to go back to your regular daily routine. However, always remember that the recovery may vary according to an individual's health status.

In the case of an open surgery, your cut in the abdomen may be large. For this reason, you will need more time to recover. Your recovery may take as long as six weeks.

In case you run out of painkillers, you can purchase over-the-counter pain relievers such as paracetamol. The pharmacist will advise you on how to take them. The pain relievers always come with a leaflet of the patient's information. Please read them first before taking the medicine.

A few days after the surgery, you may still feel sore. You may not be able to drive during this time. However, you don't have to worry since you will improve gradually. You should wait until the soreness goes away before trying to drive once again.

Results

After a gallbladder removal surgery, you may experience a few changes in your digestion. However, the gallbladder is not really essential for your bowels to work well. You may have loose stools at first. However, it should stop after some time. If you notice any unusual changes in your bowel pattern, you need to consult your doctor immediately.

The time it will take to resume your daily routine and exercises after a cholecystectomy depends on the type of operation you had. If you underwent a laparoscopic gallbladder surgery, it may only take you days before you go back to your work. If what you had was an open surgery, it may take you weeks to go back to work.

Avoiding Discomfort After Your Gallbladder Removal

Watching what you eat after your gallbladder removal may also help you recover fast. It may help you adjust to the discomforts you may experience during digestion.

Gallstones are hard deposits that are formed due to digestive fluid chemical reactions. Gallbladder removal may help you resolve this problem. Every year, more than 500,000 surgeries are conducted to help correct this condition. It is usually common in elderly people.

The gallbladder is located on your right side under your liver. It has the shape of a pear. However, it is not vital for digestion. It helps store bile from the liver, which helps you in the digestion of fatty foods.

Even after your surgery, your liver will still have enough bile. However, you may have difficulty processing foods that contain a lot of fats. The following are the things you can do to avoid discomforts after the removal of your gallbladder:

1. Slowly include solid foods back into your diet 

Broth, gelatin, and clear liquids are more convenient to consume in the days after your surgery. You can gradually introduce solid foods to your diet after this stage.

2. Eat low-fat foods in smaller portions

Always eat in frequent small meals and avoid fried, fatty, gas-causing, and foods with strong odors. Moreover, follow a low-fat diet. It is recommended that you consume only 30 percent of calories in your daily meals. Thus, if you take around 1800 calories, you should only have 60 grams of fat or even less. You should enquire and opt for foods with less than 3 grams per intake.

3. Skip high-fat foods to help avoid discomforts

If you don’t eat the right kind of meals, you may start bloating, have diarrhea, or feel pain. You should refrain from eating the following types of food to avoid discomforts:

  • high-fat foods such as sausages and beef
  • dairy products such as ice cream, cheese, or whole milk
  • pizza
  • butter or lard
  • creamy sauces and soups
  • chocolates
  • palm oil and coconut oil
  • turkey and chicken skin
  • foods with a lot of spices
  • meat gravy

4. Slowly reintroduce high-fiber foods

You can gradually add the following foods back to your diet:

  • whole grain bread
  • nut
  • legumes
  • brussels sprout
  • broccoli
  • cauliflower
  • cabbage
  • cereals

Letting these foods back into your diet should be a slow process. If you start eating them so quick you may experience bloating or cramping.

5. Keep a journal while you keep watch of the negative effects

Keeping a diary of your diet after surgery is important. You can note what happens after you start eating a certain type of food again. Having a diary will give you an idea of what works for you and what does not.

You may go back to your usual diet in a month. However, if you experience the following symptoms, you should seek your doctor's advice:

  • severe pain in your stomach
  • feeling nauseous with severe vomiting
  • when your skin turns yellow
  • no bowel movement up to three days after surgery
  • when you cannot pass gas for 48 hours after surgery
  • when your diarrhea persists three days after the operation

You should gradually feel more comfortable after the surgery. As time passes, you should be able to tolerate more fats and high fiber foods.

Possible Side Effects of Surgery

The removal of the gallbladder has no long-term side effects as you can perfectly live without one. But like any other surgeries, there are some minimal side effects that may occur during your recovery:

  • Your wounds may be bruised, swollen, or painful. You may use pain relievers and should notice an improvement within a few days.
  • You may experience pain on the areas around the neck and shoulders, which is caused by the anesthesia used during surgery. However, it may wear off quickly.
  • You may feel pain in your abdomen, which is caused by the carbon dioxide used during surgery. Pain should go away after a few days.
  • You may experience mood swings and irritability that go away during your recovery.

These are normal side effects. However, you should contact your doctor if any of them is severe or persistent.