Gallbladder surgery, aka, cholecystectomy is the removal of the gallbladder or gallstones by making small incisions in the abdomen. Generally, it is a safe and common procedure, save for the slight element of risk and possible side effects it may bear. This article gives a comprehensive breakdown of the recovery timeline for gallbladder surgery and general guidelines to hasten recovery. So let’s get started!
Gallbladder Surgery: Recovery
The gallbladder surgery recovery time may vary subject to the type of surgery one is getting. Although a considerable chunk of surgical procedures are usually similar regardless of the type, the number of days one spends in the hospital, the time it takes to resume everyday activities, and other recovery considerations tend to differ.
For instance, a patient undergoing laparoscopic/minimally invasive surgery may be discharged the same day or the following day after the procedure – as long as there are no complications. But they should refrain from strenuous activities for the first two weeks as it takes 1-2 weeks for the patient to feel “normal” again. On the flip side, an open surgery (one involving larger incisions) may require the patient to stay (in the hospital) 2-4 days longer, and they may take time to recover.
The other factor that may influence a person’s recovery is the type of cholecystectomy (removal of the gallbladder) performed. A patient undergoing a simple cholecystectomy, i.e., removing the gallbladder only, recovers much faster than the one subjected to a radical cholecystectomy (a gallbladder removal process performed to treat cancer, and involves the removal of part of the liver plus the adjacent lymph nodes, as well).
Laparoscopic Surgery Recovery Timeline
Below is a breakdown of how you should feel plus what you should do or avoid after certain intervals upon returning home.
A Few Days After Returning Home
- You’re likely to feel weak and tired.
- Swelling of the abdomen is also a normal experience.
- You may also feel some pain in your right shoulder after approximately 24 hours if you had laparoscopic surgery. Why so? It results from the carbon dioxide gas often inserted into the abdomen to create space for the surgeon to seamlessly perform the procedure and have a clear view of the surgery site.
One to Two Days After Surgery
- DO NOT take a shower during this period until you get the medic’s approval.
- You may remove the bandages carefully and shower after the doctor gives the go-ahead. While at it, be careful not to hurt the wounded area; if you can’t pat it gently, avoid rubbing it altogether.
One to Two Weeks After Surgery
This is the period you’ve been waiting for. But wait, not so fast; as long as the doctor may give the go-ahead to resume your everyday activities, you want to approach it with extreme caution because your wounds are not fully recovered yet.
Remember, the return to work OK is only a preserve for those who had laparoscopic surgery. Plus, it depends on the kind of work you do; if it involves lots of movement and energy, you better wait a bit longer. The trick is to follow the doctor’s advice to the latter and not act on your intuition.
Two to Four Weeks after Surgery
- You may burp frequently.
- Diarrhea is also a normal experience, and it may last for four weeks or longer.
Four to Six Weeks after Surgery
Now you’re fully recovered, and you may be fit to resume work and other daily activities. But as usual, there’s no room for making assumptions; be sure to consult with your healthcare provider before beginning to live life normally again.
Open Surgery Recovery Timeline
If you underwent an open procedure, you might need to stay in the hospital a little longer, say 2-4 days. However, returning to work and normal activities may wait until four to six weeks after the surgery.
On top of that, other factors such as longer-lasting pains may delay the recovery time. But don’t worry; your doctor will put everything in black and white on what you should expect in terms of recovery, depending on your response to the procedure.
How to Heighten the Recovery Time after Cholecystectomy
Let’s face it; coping with gallbladder surgery recovery isn’t a walk in the path. But it isn’t a living hell either if you’re committed to recovering by heeding to the doctor’s instructions. Below are some general guidelines that may help you recover faster and resume normal activities sooner than projected.
- Ensure you rest any time you feel weak or tired. Enough sleep promotes healing and accelerates the recovery time.
- Endeavor to take a walk at least every day after the procedure; you can start with short distances and increase gradually as you feel better. This will improve blood circulation, eliminate the chances of contracting pneumonia, and keep your bowel functioning normally.
- DO NOT attempt to lift anything two to four weeks after the surgery. And by that, we mean don’t raise your child or carry objects like a briefcase, groceries, a vacuum cleaner, backpack, etc.
- DO NOT indulge in any type of task-demanding activity, including bike riding, weight-lifting, aerobics, running, etc.
- Driving is usually considerable once you finish the pain-relieving dose, but be sure to seek your healthcare provider’s assessment or approval first.
- Restrain from getting intimate with your partner until the doctor gives the OK.
And that’s it for gallbladder surgery recovery time! Remember, there’s more to faster and full-scale recovery than just taking pain-relieving medication and avoiding strenuous activities; your diet, too, matters. A liquid or bland diet is usually the best for the first few days following the procedure. Afterward, you can start adding the usual food into your diet, with fruits and vegetables taking the lion’s share. Fiber-rich foods like whole grains, nuts, broccoli, and cabbage should also be atop your menu.
Dr. Khosravi, MD., is a general surgeon with immense experience and expertise in diagnosing and treating patients with gallbladder complications, hernia, and other complicated health issues. He leverages the most advanced technologies and techniques to attend to patients with care and compassion. Make an appointment today, and let us help you recover from your condition.