What to Expect After Gallbladder Removal Surgery

Not everyone recovers the same way after gallbladder removal surgery. But generally speaking, individuals who expect a dramatic change after their operation often get a surprise. In fact, many people find themselves dealing with the same symptoms they felt before their gallbladder was removed.

When this happens, doctors refer to it as postcholecystectomy syndrome. Cholecystectomy is the medical name for gallbladder removal. Medical researchers have found that approximately 40 percent of those who have had gallbladder removal surgery go through postcholecystectomy syndrome after their operation.

Why does this happen? It’s because the bile duct continues to accumulate bile. The bile duct is a tube that carries bile between the liver and the gallbladder.

In the Days Following Your Gallbladder Removal Surgery

Although not everyone experiences postcholecystectomy syndrome, there are some things almost everyone can expect after their operation.

There’s bound to be some swelling and bruising in the area of the surgery. There’s really nothing surprising about this, even if you’ve had laparoscopic surgery (which is much less invasive than a large open incision).

Shortly after your surgery, you may also experience some discomfort caused by the air that was puffed into your abdomen during the operation. The reason your doctor inserts air in this way is to open up space to manipulate his or her instruments. Certain pain medications prescribed by your doctor will help ease any discomfort this causes.

Moving around may become something of a challenge – especially sitting down or getting up. You probably won’t find using the bathroom to be comfortable for a couple of days. Your abdominal muscles will need some time to recover – several days at least.

On the subject of bathrooms: be prepared to deal with some bloating, gas and diarrhea temporarily. Some patients get constipation instead of diarrhea. This happens infrequently, but there’s no reason to be concerned if it happens to you.

Talk to your doctor. He or she may be able to prescribe something.

Your digestive system may be unpredictable for a while too. This is normal. You’ll probably do well eating low fat or fat-free, light foods only. Low cholesterol foods and cholesterol-free foods are usually recommended.

Most patients also do better if they forgo large meals for a while and concentrate on eating smaller ones that are easier for the digestive system to handle. But definitely make sure you eat, because again, your body is recovering from a trauma. It needs fuel to regain its strength.

What to Expect in the Weeks Afterward

As the weeks pass, you can start testing your digestive system to see how it responds to certain foods. Start introducing heavier foods if you wish and pay close attention to what happens.

Getting some exercise is usually a good idea, but be careful. It’s important to use discretion. Remember that you have stitches and you need to be careful not to damage them. Follow your doctor’s recommendations closely on this.

Furthermore, be careful taking baths of showers until your stitches have been removed. Generally, it’s best to keep stitches dry.

In most cases, your doctor will want your first follow up appointment to happen within a week to ten days. He or she will probably want to see you again 4-5 weeks later.