What to Expect After Gallbladder Surgery

Knowing what to expect after gallbladder surgery can make you feel more relaxed about your upcoming surgical procedure. A cholecystectomy, or gallbladder removal surgery, is necessary when the formation of gallstones leads to severe attacks of pain and nausea.

What Will Be Done
The gallbladder is a small organ located near the liver. The primary function of the gallbladder is to store bile for future use in digestion. The body can function just fine without the gallbladder, but you will have to make a few adjustments to your dietary habits.

The surgery itself is a relatively quick procedure. Unless you have conditions that prevent it, doctors use laparoscopic surgical techniques to remove the gallbladder. Usually three small incisions are made. In some instances, you may have surgery in the morning and be sent home in the afternoon.

What to Expect After Surgery
You may experience a bit of constipation in the first days after your surgery. This is normal and is a result of the painkillers and other medicine given during the surgery.

After gallbladder surgery, you may find that you do not produce enough bile to digest high-fat foods. This can be remedied by taking a bile acid supplement at the time the high-fat meal is eaten. It is highly recommended that you avoid deep-fried foods, red meat, corn, processed foods and foods with high amounts of sugar. Choose your diet carefully in the first weeks after surgery, to find out what your body can handle. Many patients find that eating several small meals over the course of the day, rather than one or two large meals, helps with digestion.

You will need to switch from high-fat foods to a diet low in fat and high in fiber. You will need to add lots of fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains to your diet.

After surgery, some patients experience pain in the abdomen and shoulders. This is caused by residual carbon dioxide that stays in the abdomen after surgery. This pain should clear up in a few days. As with any surgery, if you're suffering from sharp pains or if you develop a fever, seek medical attention immediately, as these could be symptoms of an infection.

Full recovery from laparoscopic gallbladder surgery without complications takes two to three weeks. After the first week, you will be allowed to resume all normal activities, except heavy lifting. If you have open gallbladder surgery, recovery generally takes six to eight weeks, and you'll need to take it easy for the first two weeks after you leave the hospital. 

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