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What Is the Process of Cholecystectomy Recovery?

By Meshell Powell
Updated May 17, 2024
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A cholecystectomy is a surgical procedure in which the gallbladder is removed, and the recovery process is usually rather quick. Depending on the type of procedure that is used to remove the gallbladder, complete recovery usually ranges from a few days to a few weeks in duration. During the cholecystectomy recovery period, physical activity may need to be limited and special dietary instructions may be given. Over-the-counter or prescription medications may be needed for the first few days, and the patient will be instructed on the proper care of the incisions. Any questions or concerns about the cholecystectomy recovery process in an individual situation should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

If laparoscopic surgery is performed to remove the gallbladder, the patient may be able to go home the same day as the procedure, although some doctors prefer to monitor the patient overnight in order to make sure there are no complications. If open surgery becomes necessary, the patient will normally spend two to three days in the hospital for observation. Complications from this type of surgery are rare, but may include excessive bleeding, infection, or accidental injury to surrounding tissues or organs.

Walking is encouraged as soon as the patient is physically able, usually the same day as the surgery. A normal diet may begin as soon as the patient feels like eating. Once the gallbladder has been removed, fried or greasy foods may not be tolerated as well as they were before the procedure. Any foods that cause problems should be limited or avoided.

Any bothersome symptoms that occur during cholecystectomy recovery should be reported to a doctor for further evaluation. Pain that does not begin to lessen or gets worse could indicate damage to the internal organs and should be reported. Any swelling, redness, or oozing of the incision site may indicate the development of an infection. Mild nausea is relatively common during cholecystectomy recovery, although severe nausea or vomiting could signal a potential complication.

Although most patients will not experience long-term complications following the initial cholecystectomy recovery period, some people may need to make a few permanent dietary changes. Spicy, greasy, or fatty foods are not well tolerated by some people following the removal of the gallbladder. Others may develop sensitivities to dairy products, grains, or some leafy green vegetables. Chronic diarrhea or persistent nausea are other potential complications following this type of surgery.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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