Gallbladder removal surgery, or cholecystectomy, is often an answer for patients suffering from chronic, painful gallstones. It can also be a treatment option for other gallbladder conditions such as inflammation and bile issues. Most gallbladder surgeries are performed laparoscopically, through a series of small incisions in the abdomen. However, some are performed using traditional, or open, gallbladder removal surgery, through one larger incision. You will need to take special care during your recovery after gallbladder removal surgery to avoid complications and discomfort.
After gallbladder removal surgery, it’s normal to experience bruising or redness around your incisions, a sore throat from the breathing tube, nausea, or vomiting. If you had laparoscopic gallbladder surgery, you may also feel some pain in your abdomen or shoulder. Here are five tips to help minimize post-surgery pain and speed up your recovery after gallbladder removal surgery.
1. Get out of bed and walk around.
Light activity after surgery, such as walking, can aid in your recovery. After a laparoscopic gallbladder removal, some of the carbon dioxide used during surgery might have remained in your abdomen, causing pain in your stomach and shoulders. Staying mobile after your gallbladder removal can help ease gas-related discomfort.
Try to get out of bed as soon as you can after surgery and increase activity according to your doctor’s recommendations and your personal comfort levels. (This may even help you sleep better at night). Take care not to push yourself too hard, though, as that may cause further injury.
2. Avoid high-fat foods.
After you’ve had your gallbladder removed, your body is going to have some trouble digesting fat. Your physician will tell you when it is okay to gradually start adding fat back into your diet, although patients who have had their gallbladder removed are recommended to try to stick to healthier diets. Eating the wrong foods too soon after your surgery may cause pain, bloating, cramping, and diarrhea.
You should also avoid spicy foods and foods that cause gas or bloating. Ask for your doctor’s recommendations about foods high in fiber. Some may recommend them to decrease constipation, while others may suggest gradually introducing them back into your diet.
3. Plan ahead for help.
Ask a friend or family member to help out with errands and household chores after you get home from your surgery, since you’ll have physical restrictions that will limit your ability to take care of yourself. Normal activities, such as shopping, cleaning, and cooking can be difficult when you’re recovering from your gallbladder removal. Your doctor will probably want you to avoid certain activities after surgery, such as driving and heavy lifting. Having someone around to help you after gallbladder removal surgery can make a huge difference in the speed and comfort of your recovery.
4. Keep a postoperative journal.
Note what you eat after surgery and how it makes you feel. This way you can keep track of foods that cause pain or bloating and avoid them to make your recovery as comfortable as possible. It’s also a good idea to keep track of any symptoms that you may be experiencing. If your post-surgery pain persists or worsens, you should contact your doctor. Giving them an accurate account of your experiences during your recovery after gallbladder removal surgery can help them better care for your health.
5. Listen to your doctor.
Following the instructions provided by your physician is the most important thing you can do to speed up your recovery after gallbladder removal. There are clear reasons why your doctor might advise you to restrict your diet, drink fluids, wait a few days before you wash your incisions, or avoid lifting anything heavy.
After your gallbladder removal, you might have a sore throat from the breathing tube used during surgery, but you shouldn’t let this keep you from getting enough fluids. Dehydration can lengthen recovery times and increase postoperative discomfort. Start with small sips after surgery and increase your fluid intake as you feel comfortable, according to your physician’s recommendations.
Need help paying for your gallbladder removal?
After your gallbladder removal, you should focus on your recovery, not worry how you’re going to pay your medical bills. The national average cost for gallbladder removal surgery in the United States is $15,250, but you may be able to lower that price by over $10,000 through New Choice Health’s Gallbladder Assist program.
Don’t let the stress of high medical bills affect your recovery. Use New Choice Health’s Patient Assist program to find the best cost for your gallbladder removal surgery today.
Reviewed and updated 2/16/2023.