For some gallbladder patients, the slightest mention of surgery is enough to lower their receptiveness to the procedure. While it’s normal to feel cautious or apprehensive about advanced medical procedures like gallbladder surgery, it’s unwise to let those feelings precede your health.
Gallbladder surgery is a significant medical event that comes with risks, but the advantages of treatment far outweigh the consequences of a ruptured gallbladder. Below are the top 12 most common questions about gallbladder surgery Dr. Abtin Khosravi, MD, FACS, receives from patients. Please take a moment to review them to get a better understanding of what to expect with your condition and gallbladder surgery experience.
1. How is gallbladder disease detected?
Regardless of symptoms, medical attention is necessary for an official gallbladder disease diagnosis and surgery recommendation. An external observation cannot determine if you have gallbladder disease. However, there are diagnostic procedures like MRIs, ultrasounds, and blood tests that medical providers rely on to determine gallbladder health, function, the presence of gallstones, or disease activity. Patient treatment considerations are based on the outcome of these tests and their situation.
2. What is a gallbladder attack?
Gallbladder attacks usually cause excruciating pain that often intensifies shortly after onset. These episodes can be brief or last for several hours. Many patients also experience nausea, vomiting, dark-colored urine, and jaundice of the eyes or skin. These symptoms can occur at any time, although physical activity tends to worsen symptoms in some people.
3. What is gallbladder surgery?
Gallbladder surgery is referred to as cholecystectomy. Cholecystectomy is the removal of a gallbladder. Millions of people suffer from gallbladder disease or issues. The symptoms usually mimic stomachaches or indigestion, including nausea, mild to severe abdominal pain, fever, and vomiting. Pain may also be felt in the back in between the shoulders.
Sometimes the symptoms can mask other health conditions and are often misdiagnosed. Misdiagnosis and delays in care can cause your gallbladder dysfunction to progress and make you sicker.
4. Do I need a gallbladder?
Your gallbladder is a small organ that plays a vital role in the digestive system. It stores bile from the liver and releases it into the small intestines. Its main function is to help break down fatty foods. Although the gallbladder does play a role in the digestive system, it is an organ you can live without. Your body has other organs that eventually compensate for the gallbladder’s functions in its absence.
5. What are treatment alternatives to gallbladder surgery or removal?
If the gallbladder is not too inflamed or infected, patients may benefit from antibiotics and prescription medications alone or in combination with lifestyle changes. Antibiotic treatment may be used. However, if those measures fail to provide significant symptom improvement, surgery is the next course of treatment. Surgery is necessary to prevent infection spread and symptoms so patients can recover.
6. How safe is gallbladder surgery?
Surgery does come with some risks for patients, but they are easily minimized when a gallbladder surgery specialist performs the procedure. Surgeons specializing in gallbladder surgery have a better success rate than general physicians or specialists. Most surgeons offer consultations for patients to learn more about their condition and the physician’s expertise and credentials, treatment options, and ask questions.
7. How is gallbladder surgery performed?
Gallbladder surgery is performed through a surgical procedure called laparoscopic cholecystectomy. This procedure involves making three to four small incisions in the abdomen, where the instruments will be inserted. This is a minimally invasive surgical option for people with gallstones, inflammation, and pain.
8. What happens if I put off gallbladder surgery?
It’s pretty common for patients to put off their decision for surgery. If you are one of them, it’s okay. In most cases, gallbladder surgery can be delayed if you are not experiencing symptoms. However, the longer you wait to have gallbladder surgery, the more susceptible you become to infections, inflammation, liver and pancreas issues, and other complications.
9. How long is gallbladder surgery recovery?
Today, gallbladder surgery can be performed as an open or minimally invasive procedure. Open surgery is often prescribed for patients with advanced or complex gallbladder issues and those ineligible for laparoscopic surgery.
Minimally invasive gallbladder surgery is the standard and recommended for patients who meet the criteria for laparoscopic treatment. Patient downtime after conventional/open gallbladder surgery is six weeks to eight weeks, whereas laparoscopic patients only need a few weeks before they can resume their normal activities.
10. What can I eat after gallbladder surgery?
There are generally no special diets or eating restrictions after gallbladder surgery. Due to the medication, like the anesthesia, you may experience nausea and little to no appetite. This is normal, and you should slowly be getting your appetite back.
11. How soon can I return to work after surgery?
You should wait at least one week into the recovery to return to work. While you can do some work, strenuous work might be a bit uncomfortable so early after the surgery. Your doctor will lay out your recovery plan. Everything you need to know will be included in your discharge packet.
12. Do I need follow-up care?
You’ll need to visit your surgeon several times during the postoperative phase so they can keep an eye on your recovery progress and address potential issues that may arise right away to prevent complications or a poor outcome. Follow-up appointments are also necessary so patients can discuss their concerns and get clarity or alternative recommendations if required.
However, if you experience severe pain, swelling, fever, nausea, chest pain, shortness of breath, or difficulty with bowel movements, call your doctor immediately or head to your nearest emergency room.
Don’t let your misgivings about gallbladder surgery keep you from getting the relief you deserve. Call (714) 541-4996 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Khosravi, MD, FACS, gallbladder surgeon and treatment specialist, and the director of Orange County Robotic General Surgery in California.
To find out if inguinal hernia repair surgery is right for you, Contact Orange County General Robotic Surgery at (714) 706-1257 for a consultation with Dr. Abtin H. Khosravi.