Did you know that removal of the gallbladder is one of the most commonly performed operations? When working properly, your gallbladder stores some of the bile made by the liver. During meals, a hormone signal causes the gallbladder to contract and empty extra bile into the intestine to assist with digestion. When a gallbladder is inflamed or contains stones – known as gallbladder disease – it cannot properly function.
While some patients with mild or intermittent symptoms of gallbladder disease can be managed with dietary changes, surgical removal of the gallbladder, or laparoscopic cholecystectomy, is the treatment of choice when patients’ symptoms worsen. Laparoscopic cholecystectomy is a minimally invasive procedure that offers patients several benefits including less pain, faster recovery, and smaller scars.
If you’re preparing to have your gallbladder removed, here are some frequently asked questions to help you learn everything you need to know about recovery.
Do I need to stay overnight for gallbladder removal?
Laparoscopic surgery allows for a much quicker recovery and less postoperative pain than traditional open surgery. Most patients can go home the same day; however, some may need to stay overnight.
What does post-operative care look like?
Post-operative pain is usually well-controlled with prescribed pain medications. You may shower 24 hours after surgery and take a bath 14 days after surgery. There will be small white gauze pads over your incisions which may be removed 24 hours after surgery. Under the gauze pads will be either small pieces of tape called Steri-Strips, or glue covering the incisions. These should be left alone as they will fall off over time.
How can I manage pain following surgery?
Use the prescription pain medication provided at the time of discharge as directed. As soon as possible, transition to non-narcotic pain relievers such as Tylenol. Additionally, ice packs on your incisions may be useful during the first 24-48 hours after surgery. Twenty minutes on and twenty minutes off is a good rule of thumb.
When can I resume physical activity?
When you get home from the hospital it’s important to get up and move around your house, but you should avoid any strenuous physical activity for two weeks. After 2 weeks you can start to incorporate your usual activities, like jogging, riding a stationary bike, flat surface bike, or low resistance elliptical trainer. Any activity that might make your incision sore, like lifting heavy objects (greater than 25 lbs.), mowing the lawn, etc., should be avoided for four weeks.
What should my diet be following surgery?
We recommend that you avoid greasy or fatty foods for two weeks. Begin with a bland diet, such as chicken noodle soup, crackers, Gatorade or tea, and gradually work your way up to a normal diet. It is important to avoid eating large meals, instead eat several small meals throughout the day.
To learn more about gallbladder removal surgery, visit austinsurgeons.net or call 512-467-7151. Request an appointment online with one of our board certified general surgeons in Austin, Bastrop or Lockhart here.