Gallbladder Surgery Recovery Time
Gallbladder surgery used to be a major undertaking. Today, thanks to advances in science, we can have safer and less invasive surgeries. For the patient, this means less pain and a quicker recovery when compared to open surgery.
Surgeons can now do quite complex and advance surgeries through tiny incisions. This technique is called Keyhole or Laparoscopic surgery. When it is done to remove the gallbladder, we call it Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy.
The recovery time for gallbladder surgery varies from person to person. While some people are able to return to work a week after surgery, others need several months to recover.
What Happens During Gallbladder Surgery?
Here are some things to expect during surgery:
- A few tiny incisions, usually three or four, will be made in your abdomen. They will knock you out with a general anesthetic, so you shouldn’t feel a thing during the operation.
- Carbon dioxide gas will be used to inflate your abdomen. This makes it easy for the surgeon to see what they're doing. Surgical instruments, including a camera, will be inserted into your abdomen through the incisions.
- Your surgeon will use the camera to see inside and maybe take some photos. The gallbladder will be removed through one of the incisions.
- After the gallbladder has been removed, the incisions will be stitched and dressed.
What Is the Recovery Time for Gallbladder Surgery?
- When the operation is performed laparoscopically, you are in and out of the hospital on the same day.
- Issues with pain management may cause you to spend the night in the hospital.
- Sometimes, the surgeon may need to stop the laparoscopic procedure and convert to open surgery. When this happens, most people will stay in the hospital for two to three days.
According to the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons, you will probably be able to resume normal activities within a week. Most people will make a full recovery after seven to ten days.
You may return to work if it does not involve any strenuous activity such as heavy lifting. Otherwise, you may need up to a month of recovery time.
Make sure you follow all of your post-surgery instructions. Your healthcare team should give you these instructions and make sure you understand them. Don't rush into manual labor too soon. If you do, your body will let you know.
Have you had your gallbladder removed?
How Much Pain Will I Be in After Gallbladder Surgery?
It is not as bad as open surgery but those who’ve had their gallbladder removed would agree that it absolutely does hurt. So don’t expect to be pain-free after the operation.
You may need someone to help you at home for a few days after the operation. During this time, you may experience pain or have difficulty while performing the following activities:
- Getting in/out of bed
- Getting on/off the couch
- Laying on your side
Other Common Postoperative Side Effects
- A sore throat: You will probably have a sore throat as a result of the intubation—a tube forced down your throat during the operation.
- Bloating: Blame this on the gas that was used to pump you up during the operation.
- This gas can also cause pain in your abdomen and shoulder.
- It takes a couple of days for the gas to make its way out.
- It is believed that walking helps you get rid of the gas, so try not to stay in bed or on the couch all day.
- Constipation: This is a common problem after gallbladder surgery.
- Some painkillers are known to cause constipation.
- Take advice from your doctor. They will probably give you a stool softener to help ease it.
It is important to note that not everybody is the same. What you experience may differ from what I just described. If you would like to add something, please feel free to do so in the comment section below.
For those who’ve had their gallbladder removed, the pain from your surgery was:
What Are Potential Complications of Gallbladder Surgery?
Just like any other surgery, gallbladder surgery comes with a set of risks.
- Risk of bleeding and infection: According to ACS, the risk of bleeding and infection is quite rare.
- Infection occurs less than 0.1% of the time. This basically means that an infection occurs in one out of every 1000 cases.
- More serious complications include injury to surrounding organs and bile leakage. These are even rarer than the risk of infection.
- Persistent Pain: There is a 1% chance that the pain still continues after the gallbladder is removed. The doctor may or may not come up with a good explanation of why the pain persists.
- Sometimes, pain after surgery can be due to a stone in the bile duct, so this stone was somewhere else when the gallbladder was removed. Another surgery may be required to fix this.
- Diarrhea and a sense of urgency after a fatty meal: This is a common long-term complication after gallbladder surgery.
- Eating the wrong food can be very uncomfortable and even embarrassing, so you will need to watch what you eat after your operation.
I am not trying to scare anyone from having their surgery. It is important for you to know what you could possibly go through during and after surgery. I might have left out a few points, so talk to your doctor about this stuff; they might have some interesting information for you.
Remember that the gallbladder surgery recovery time is different for each person. While some people are up and about in one or two days, others need a lot more time.
Let me know how your experience has been in the comments below.
Robotic Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy
Ever heard of the Robotic Gallbladder Removal Surgery aka Robotic Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy? Check out the video below to see how the surgeon uses a robot to perform the operation.