Are you scheduled for gallbladder surgery? It’s one of the most common abdominal surgeries in the country, and about 1 million Americans get their gallbladders removed each year.
If you have painful gallstones, removing your gallbladder might be one of the best ways to improve your health, but the thought of surgery can be scary, and it’s normal to wonder what to expect in terms of recovery.
Elvira Klause, MD, FACS, is board-certified surgeon specializing in gallbladder surgery in San Clemente, California. In this blog, she shares her step-by-step guide to help you through the recovery process.
Step 1: Follow your doctor's instructions
Gallbladder surgery usually takes about one hour, and you may be able to go home the same day. After surgery, Dr. Klause and our team give you specific instructions on how to care for yourself at home.
We may recommend getting plenty of rest, avoiding certain activities, and taking prescribed medication. Follow these instructions closely to ensure a smooth and successful recovery. Don’t hesitate to ask us any questions that come up once you start recovering at home.
Step 2: Take care of your incision
Gallbladder surgery is minimally invasive, but you’ll still have small incisions on your abdomen. Depending on the surgery, Dr. Klause may use skin glue, stitches, or staples to close the incisions
We give you instructions on how to care for your incisions. Follow these instructions to keep your incisions clean and dry to prevent infection.
When you care for your incisions, look for signs of infection like pain, redness, swelling, or pus. If you think you might have an infection, seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Step 3: Increase your activity level gradually
You need plenty of rest after surgery, but you also need to reintroduce activity to prevent muscle atrophy and promote healing. Dr. Klause may encourage you to get up and walk around shortly after your procedure.
As you heal, we help you gradually increase your activity level. You may be able to start driving or return to work once your pain is well-controlled and you aren’t taking any narcotic pain medications.
Step 4: Eat a healthy diet
Your diet plays a key role in your recovery from gallbladder surgery. Certain foods, like high-fat and spicy foods, can irritate your digestive system after gallbladder removal. Dr. Klause may recommend avoiding these foods until your body has healed.
Instead, focus on a healthy, balanced diet that’s rich in nutrients and low in fat. A healthy diet after gallbladder surgery generally contains plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains.
Step 5: Ask for help
Recovering from surgery can be physically and emotionally challenging, and gallbladder removal is no exception. Before surgery, build a support system to help you through the process.
Ask family or friends to help with tasks such as cooking and cleaning. You may also want to join a support group, at which you can connect with others who have undergone similar surgeries.
Step 6: Attend your follow-up appointments
Dr. Klause schedules follow-up appointments for you after gallbladder surgery, and it’s important to attend them even if you’re feeling better.
These appointments allow her to monitor your recovery and address any concerns or issues you may have. As always, ask any questions you may have about your recovery during these appointments.
By following these steps, you can promote a successful recovery and get back to your normal activities as soon as possible. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Klause and our team to learn more about preparing for gallbladder surgery.