Undergoing a gallbladder removal at some point is fairly common for many. To live and maintain a healthy lifestyle without a gallbladder, it’s important to first understand what the gallbladder does so you know what your body’s missing and what you need to do to make up for it.
Your gallbladder is a pear-shaped organ located under your liver, in the upper-right area of your abdomen. Its purpose is to store and deliver bile — the fluid that helps digest food. If your gallbladder is not working properly, or your bile becomes out of balance, hard fragments called gallstones start to form. These fragments can be as small as a grain of rice or as big as a golf ball, and unfortunately, they don’t go away on their own.
If you experience pain or other symptoms including fever, diarrhea or unusual bowel movements, nausea and jaundice, a surgical removal of your gallbladder may be necessary. This type of surgery is common and referred to as a cholecystectomy.
Rest assured, you can most definitely live without your gallbladder, but you will need to make a few adjustments to your lifestyle and eating habits to avoid any problems and reduce discomfort post surgery. Read on to learn what you can expect following a gallbladder procedure.
What Happens After My Surgery?
After a gallbladder removal, the time it takes you to heal depends on the type of procedure you had. When you undergo an open surgery, we often require you to stay in the hospital for a few days to make sure you feel comfortable enough to head home. With this type of operation, you can expect a 6 to 8 week recovery.
If you decide on a Laparoscopy procedure, it’s far less invasive, meaning you’ll experience less pain and a faster recovery. Most patients are able to go home the same day and typical recovery turnaround is 2 weeks. The disadvantage to this surgery is that the operation time takes a bit longer.
While most people don’t feel any different or experience any major changes in digestion post surgery, there is a chance you may have a few uncomfortable symptoms. Our team of surgeons are happy to meet with you to decide which procedure would be best for you as well as discuss other treatment options for your individual situation.
Digestion Symptoms and Changes
During the first few weeks following surgery, we often recommend you eat a low-fat diet while your body adjusts to the changes of no longer having a gallbladder. If you’re unsure on what’s off limits or what you should be eating, here’s a helpful article listing various recommended foods.
While post-surgery digestive issues are normally uncommon, some people will notice changes such as more frequent bowel movements. Other changes may include:
- Difficulty digesting fatty foods
- Temporary or chronic diarrhea
- Temporary constipation
- Retained stone in bile duct
- Intestinal injury
If you find yourself experiencing any one of these issues after your gallbladder procedure, call our office right away. Even if your symptoms seem mild, it’s important to meet with a surgeon to ensure your body is healing properly and you’re on the road to recovery!
Managing a Healthy Lifestyle
Our goal at Muskegon Surgical Associates is to help you live a healthy lifestyle. As we mentioned previously, most gallbladder surgeries go very smoothly and patients often don’t feel any different. However, it’s still important to make sure you’re taking the proper steps to manage your health, so here are a few tips to get back to your old self and stay healthy:
- Directly following surgery, slowly start adding solid foods back into your diet.
- Adopt a low-fat diet.
- Take your time reintroducing fiber-rich foods.
- Try to avoid eating fatty-foods, such as ones that are fried.
- Eat smaller, more frequent meals.
- Keep a food journal for the first few weeks to watch for any negative effects.
If you need assistance on how to better manage your diet and lifestyle after gallbladder surgery, take time to meet with one of our surgeons to determine a plan that works best for you.
If you’re in need of gallbladder surgery or have just undergone the operation, we’re here to reassure you that the procedure is harmless, and you can expect to have a safe and healthy recovery. To schedule a consultation or meet with one of our healthcare team members, call us at 231-739-9461.