If there are white gauze dressings covering your wounds, they may be removed 24 hours following surgery. Underneath you will find Steri-Strips, small white pieces of tape. Please leave these alone. They typically fall off within two weeks of surgery. You may gently shower 24 hours after surgery, trying not to remove the Steri-Strips. You may take a bath 14 days after surgery.
Your wounds may be closed with glue instead of Steri-Strips, with or without an outer gauze dressing. If so, follow the instructions above; the glue will peel off within 2 weeks of surgery.
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. Following a cholecystectomy, we recommend avoiding very greasy and spicy foods for two weeks.
When you get home from the hospital, it is important to get up and move around your house. Walking upstairs is acceptable. If you received an incentive spirometer in the hospital, continue to use it as directed for 3-5 days. If you do not have an incentive spirometer, it is important to practice deep breathing exercises 4-5 times per day to help keep your lungs clear.
For the first 2 weeks after surgery, avoid any strenuous physical activity. Walking short distances for exercise is acceptable. Do not drive for at least 5-7 days after surgery or within 24 hours of taking any prescription pain medication. After 2 weeks, you may jog, ride a stationary bike, flat surface bike, or low resistance elliptical trainer. Do not lift anything greater than 25 lbs. for at least three weeks. Following this three-week period, you may gradually increase your activities by applying common sense. However, avoid any physical activity that might make your incision sore, including lifting heavy objects, moving furniture, mowing the lawn, etc. These activities should be avoided for four weeks following surgery.
You may resume all your usual home medications except for aspirin or other anti-coagulants (blood thinning medications). Aspirin and other anti-coagulants should be discontinued for at least 24 hours following surgery, unless other arrangements are made with your physician.
When you get home from the hospital, please call our office at (512) 467-7151 to schedule your follow up appointment 7-10 days following your surgery. Please do not leave the Austin area for 1 week following your surgery to ensure we can readily address any complications.
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.
Use the prescription pain medication provided at the time of discharge as directed. Be sure to take narcotic pain medication with food so as not to upset your stomach. As soon as possible transition to non-narcotic pain relievers such as Tylenol. If you have no past problems with ulcer disease or gastrointestinal bleeding or allergies to aspirin, you may take Ibuprofen. Do not drive while you are taking a prescription pain medication.
Nausea is common during the post-operative period and may be caused by pain medication. Stopping the pain medication and using Tylenol or ibuprofen will likely help.
It is not unusual to experience muscular pain in the region of the puncture wounds under the ribs after a laparoscopic cholecystectomy. This pain can sometimes radiate to the back and can be confused with gallbladder pain during the early post-operative period. This usually resolves after 5-7 days and can be treated with a local heating pad. Patients occasionally experience shoulder pain due to the carbon dioxide used to inflate the abdomen during surgery. This typically resolves within a few days.
It is not unusual for patients taking narcotic pain medication after surgery to become constipated. This should be treated by gradually increasing your activity and drinking a normal amount of water to remain hydrated. A stool softener such as Colace may be used for a few days. A diet high in fiber or dietary fiber supplements (such as Metamucil, Fibercon, Konsyl, Citrucel) may also help. For persistent constipation, our favorite remedy is Miralax, although Ducolax suppositories, Milk of Magnesia or Fleet enemas can be used and are available without a prescription. Use all over the counter medications as directed.
Should you experience a temperature over 101 degrees or have persistent nausea, vomiting or other problems that you think require medical attention, please call our office.