A laparoscopic cholecystectomy is the medical term for a minimally invasive surgical procedure to remove your gallbladder. It can be performed with only a few small incisions, and the patient can often be discharged the same day or after one overnight at a care clinic. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at why someone may need to undergo a laparoscopic cholecystectomy, how the procedure is performed and what a standard recovery looks like.
The Need For Gallbladder Removal
Your gallbladder is a non-essential organ, meaning while it’s easier for your body to function optimally with a gallbladder, it can learn to operate without the bile-storing organ. Instead of storing bile to be released during digestion, bile produced by the liver will go directly to the small intestine during the digestive process. This means it can’t release as large a quantity at a time, but bile will still be produced and released without its standard storage tank.
But what might cause someone to need to have their gallbladder removed? In the event that gallstones (hardened deposits of bile) form and block bile ducts, your gallbladder can become inflamed and susceptible to infection. Instead of operating to remove the small gallstones on the delicate organ, surgeons often just remove the entire gallbladder to resolve the problem. So if you are experiencing pain in the right side of your abdomen, and if it’s presenting with nausea or a fever, there may be an issue with your gallbladder that requires a cholecystectomy.
Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy Basics and Recovery
Dr. Bhatti and his team have performed countless laparoscopic cholecystectomy procedures, and it’s a pretty straightforward procedure for a trained surgeon. To begin the procedure, the patient lies on their back on the operating table. General anesthesia is administered and you will feel no pain during the procedure. A few small incisions are then made on your abdomen and a laparoscope is inserted which relays a video feed to the surgeon who can then view inside the area with the assistance of a monitor in the room.
Over the course of an hour or two, the surgeon will carefully disengage the gallbladder and remove it from the body. When the surgeon is satisfied that the organ has been removed and that the rest of the digestive system looks stable, they will remove the laparoscope and other tools before closing the incision sites with stitches or sutures. You will then be taken to a recovery room where your surgical team will monitor your vitals as you wake from the anesthesia.
If you don’t have any complications and can stand and go to the bathroom on your own, you will be discharged the same day or the next. Your surgeon will be able to give you personalized advice based on your specific situation and work requirements, but in general, most people can eat and drive normally a day or two post-op. It takes about a week to return to most daily activities that don’t involve lifting or other manual labor tasks. You should be able to resume physical activity or sexual intercourse after 2-3 weeks, but again it’s advised that you check with your surgeon before proceeding.
Many people also find it helpful to make some dietary changes after their gallbladder removal procedure. Because the body can no longer store bile, many people find it easier to digest food if they avoid large, greasy or fatty foods. Smaller, healthy meals are much easier on the digestive system and allow you to avoid feelings of bloatedness or gas. Your surgeon can explain in more detail how to alter your eating habits to adjust to life without a gallbladder.
Millions of Americans are living normal lives without their gallbladder, so don’t be afraid to talk to a specialist like Dr. Bhatti if you’re experiencing symptoms. For more information, or to talk with a surgeon about another digestive issue, reach out to the team at Bhatti GI Consultants today.