Precautions After the Removal of a Gallbladder


Gallbladder removal is a procedure used to relieve the pain of gallstones and prevent their possible return. It is most commonly performed through a minimally invasive technique called a laparoscopy, but may also be done as a full open surgery. While gallbladder removal provides freedom from gallstone attacks, it is a major surgery requiring substantial time for recovery. You may assist this recovery by following certain essential precautions.

Surgeon and team operating on gallbladder gland
(Christopher Furlong/Getty Images News/Getty Images)

In the immediate aftermath of surgery, you will need to take a little time to assess your condition. Typically, you will be able to drink some liquids, but you may be too nauseous to eat. Reintroduce solid food in small amounts to judge whether you will be able to keep it down. Tell your doctor if you have diarrhea lasting for more than three days after surgery. Due to the nature of your surgery, you will quite possibly be temporarily placed on a narcotic painkiller. Be aware that constipation is a potential side effect of this treatment, and you may need to switch to a high-fiber diet to maintain regular bowel movements.

Woman after surgery
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Initially, you will have difficulty getting out of bed. However, you will need some small amount of physical activity, so hospital staff will help you take short walks. Once you are able to move on your own, be careful not to over strain yourself. If you have a laparoscopic procedure, you should avoid strenuous activity of any kind for at least three to five days afterward. If you have open surgery, you should avoid heavy activity for at least 10 to 14 days.

Trying to get out of bed
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Take precautions against infection of your wound site by practicing proper hygiene. Change your bandages regularly, and wash your hands with antibacterial soap before and after exposing your surgical incision. Typically, you will be able to shower a couple of days after surgery, but you should not take a bath until your wound has healed enough to for your doctor to remove your stitches or other surgical binding. Take further precaution by noting any material draining from your incision. While some amount of light drainage is completely normal, tell your doctor right away if your drainage thickens or turns yellow. Also watch for redness around the edge of the incision.

As your incision heals, you will need to avoid restrictive clothing that may rub against it. You will also need to keep the developing scar out of direct sunlight.

Gauze bandage, close-up
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Take precautions against severe post-surgical pain by communicating your level of discomfort to your doctor as accurately as possible. By providing him with this information, you give him a chance to address your needs before your pain worsens to an intolerable degree. Tracking your pain in this way also gives you doctor hints about the state of your recovery. For instance, if your pain increases over time, you may have a developing infection. Additionally, you can reduce severe pain during sneezing, coughing or other movement by holding a pillow tight against your abdomen.

Holding a pink water bottle against stomach
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