Healthy Living

What Are the Side Effects of Cholecystectomy?

What Are the Side Effects of Cholecystectomy?

Key Takeaways

  • A cholecystectomy is accompanied by side effects that can either be short-term or long-term.
  • Digestive problems are one of the side effects of cholecystectomy. 
  • In case you realize that you are experiencing severe and painful side effects, seek medical attention immediately.

Cholecystectomy is a common surgical operation currently performed for the treatment of gallbladder problems. The operation is basically a surgery done to remove the gallbladder. The removal of the gallbladder can be done in two different methods.

Methods Used in a Cholecystectomy

One of the methods used in the removal of the gallbladder is called as an "open cholecystectomy." This type of surgery involves having a large abdominal incision close to the belly. Since the procedure requires a longer incision, more bleeding is expected. The surgeon uses this incision to gain access into your abdominal cavity to remove the gallbladder.

Another surgical method used in the removal of the gallbladder is the "laparoscopic cholecystectomy." It is an operation where surgeons use a laparoscope to examine your body. Moreover, the incisions made in this procedure are very small compared to the incision made in the open method. Once the laparoscope is driven into the body and the gallbladder is identified, it is then removed through a small incision.

What is a gallbladder?

The gallbladder is one of the essential organs in your body. However, you can still lead a healthy life without a gallbladder. The gallbladder functions as the storage of bile, which is a fluid used for digestion. In most cases, gallbladder problems are effectively treated through the removal of the gallbladder. Removing the organ doesn't cause any detrimental effects in the body. 

However, some side effects are still expected for people who will undergo a cholecystectomy. The side effects may vary from one person to another, and will usually depend on the type of method used when removing the organ or the state of your body.

Some of the side effects are short-term while others can be long-term.

Short-term Side Effects of Cholecystectomy

1. Nausea and Vomiting

A nauseous feeling that leads to vomiting is one of the short-term side effects that patients undergo immediately after their surgery. People who have undergone either an open or laparoscopic cholecystectomy will experience this side effect. The administration of anesthesia during surgery is said to be the main cause why patients feel sick after the procedure. 

However, nausea and vomiting can easily be treated. For nausea, the patient is given anti-nausea medications or injections. Vomiting should not last for long. If vomiting still persists, the surgeon should be notified.

2. Intestinal Injury

It might sound dangerous but intestinal injuries can happen in very rare cases. An intestinal injury happens when a surgeon damages some parts of your intestines during the operation. Other possible side effects accompanied by this type of injury can include fever, pain, vomiting, and nausea.

3. Fatigue and Pain

Fatigue and pain are very common side effects of cholecystectomy. However, it is important to note that these side effects can vary according to the method used in the removal of the gallbladder and the health of the patient. Recovery from such side effects may also take a few days but can be different from one person to another depending on their overall health status.

4. Constipation

Constipation is just a temporary side effect, which may not happen to everyone. Constipation is usually experienced by patients due to their pain medications. This side effect can be treated by eating a diet rich in fruits, beans, fiber, vegetables, and bran.

Long-term Side Effects of Cholecystectomy

The duration of a few side effects can be experienced longer that might last for months or even years. However, these side effects can be differently experienced by people who have undergone a cholecystectomy. Some long-term side effects include:

1. Difficulty in the digestion of fatty foods

It is a side effect that does not happen to all people that have undergone cholecystectomy. However, for those who have a difficulty in digesting fatty foods, they may continue to experience it for some months. The body is not able to properly digest fatty foods because of the low amounts of bile. It is advisable to reduce the intake of fatty foods to control this condition.

2. Chronic diarrhea

Another long-term side effect after a cholecystectomy is chronic diarrhea, where patients experience frequent bowel movements. Their stool is always loose and accompanied with urgency. Around 17 percent of the total number of people who have undergone a cholecystectomy experience this problem. Studies have shown that men below the age of 50 have had these cases compared to other patients who have also undergone a cholecystectomy.

For some people, chronic diarrhea can last for several months or even years. People without a gallbladder are thus advised to reduce their intake of fatty foods to manage the problem.

Managing Digestive Problems Caused by the Removal of the Gallbladder

Digestive problems are one of the side effects of cholecystectomy. The side effects, however, varies from one person to another. In most cases, fatty foods are the type of foods that brings problems in the body. There are also other foods that may be difficult to digest. Here are some ways to manage digestive problems after the removal of your gallbladder:

  1. Eating small but frequent meals. Upon the removal of your gallbladder, the bile duct needs time to adapt to the changes. Eating too much food will affect your digestion due to an insufficient secretion of bile.
  2. Do not fast the whole day and eat a heavy meal at dinner.
  3. Train yourself to eat low-fat foods.

Bottom Line

Cholecystectomy is a good method of treating gallbladder problems. According to research, most of the surgeries done to remove the gallbladder have been successful. There are also testimonies of good results after the operation.

Nevertheless, it is a procedure that comes with its challenges. A cholecystectomy is accompanied by side effects that can either be short-term or long-term. It is highly recommended that you speak with your doctor before undergoing the surgery to know some of the things that you can do to reduce the possible side effects.

In case you realize that you are experiencing severe and painful side effects, seek medical attention immediately.