Recovery Time After Gallbladder Surgery

The recovery time after gallbladder surgery depends in large part on the surgical methods used. Thanks to advances made in surgical techniques, you can now expect a shorter recovery time after a gallbladder operation.

Older Methods
Many years ago, gallbladder surgery was a major undertaking. The gallbladder was removed by making a large incision in the right side of the abdomen. The surgery itself was not that complicated and was relatively short, but the recovery time was quite lengthy. This is because of the time needed for the intestines to recover after an abdominal operation.

In years prior, a patient could expect to stay in the hospital for at least a week after the surgery. Recovery at home could take up to a month.

Note that in some cases, traditional gallbladder surgery may be recommended by your doctor. This can happen if you've had previous surgery on or near your gallbladder, if you have intestinal inflammation or infection, if you are a hemophiliac or if your doctor has difficulty locating your gallbladder on MRI scans. 

Laparoscopic Alternatives
Today the procedure is usually done using laparoscopic technology. The doctor makes several small incisions in the abdomen, then inserts tubes with small cameras in them into the incisions.

The cameras allow the surgeon to see what he is doing as he guides miniature surgical tools. The procedure is over before you know it, with only a few small scars to show that you had anything done. This procedure was first performed in 1987.

With laparoscopic surgery, patients recover much more quickly. In fact, most patients are discharged the next day. In some instances, the surgery is done in the morning and the patient is sent home in the afternoon.

After a couple of days of rest at home, most patients can resume their regular activities. This includes driving, walking up stairs and working. In the first couple of weeks after surgery, it is recommended that you only do light lifting. After about four to six weeks, all restrictions should be lifted and you can resume your normal activities.

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