Tips for Avoiding Discomfort After Your Gallbladder Removal
Gallbladder removal, also known as a cholecystectomy, is a very common surgical procedure in the United States and around the world. Millions of people have their gallbladders removed either due to disease or symptomatic gallstones. In the hands of an experienced surgeon, the risks of having a gallbladder removed are very, very small. However, gallbladder surgery is major surgery and requires proper post-operative care to minimize discomfort and make recovery easier and smoother.
Infection is one of the most significant concerns we have after surgery. While infection is rare, particularly when laparoscopic or minimally invasive surgery is being performed, there is still a risk. To reduce this risk, you will be asked to get up and walk around as much as physically comfortable over the hours and days after surgery. Walking increases blood flow around the body and reduces the chance of an infection which can be devastating…potentially landing you back in the hospital. Proper wound care should also be implemented. This includes washing hands thoroughly before touching the wound, always using new dressings and not using any antibacterial creams or gels without specific doctor’s orders. Lastly, the wound should not be submerged in water until you have been cleared to do so, after approximately a week.
Pain management is important after any surgical procedure no matter how minimally invasive. By managing your pain well, you improve the chances of getting through recovery without complications. Pain only hinders your ability to walk around, perform exercises and return to normal activity as soon as possible. While we encourage our patients to use as little pain medication as possible, some will require narcotic pain pills in the first day or two after surgery. Beyond that, regular Tylenol should be just fine. Don’t tough it out…it’s not necessary!
While patients do not have specific dietary restrictions after a cholecystectomy, the gallbladder does play in important role in the regulation of bile during meals, especially those that are high in fat. It will take some time for the body to become accustomed to delivering bile directly from the liver into the gastrointestinal system without the assistance of the gallbladder’s storage function. As a result, if you indulge in high fat and high calorie foods after gallbladder removal, you may find yourself having diarrhea, flatulence or other gastrointestinal problems. We always suggest that you use the removal of the gallbladder to improve your diet by eliminating processed foods and other foods that are high in saturated fats.
Don’t worry and ask questions
Especially for those who have not had abdominal surgery before, the post-operative period can be nerve-racking as you wonder whether you are experiencing complications. No two people have the same recovery process. The rule of thumb however is that you improve slowly each day until you fully recover. However, if you have any concerns or worries about your recovery, don’t hesitate to contact us. That is what we are here for. We want you to be fully comfortable both physically and psychologically after surgery.
Further, we encourage you to follow your postoperative instructions very carefully as those are a collection of thoughts and observations over dozens of years and thousands of procedures to improve your outcomes and maximize your comfort. Lastly, don’t worry about myths such as gaining weight because of your gallbladder removal. The gallbladder removal procedure itself does not cause weight regain. However, a new, more liberal, diet may. So just exercise common sense and follow your post-op directions to have the best possible outcome after surgery.
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