Recovery after gallbladder surgery is dependent upon the surgical procedure used to remove it. The gallbladder can be removed laparoscopically (cholecystectomy) or with the more invasive "open" surgical method.
Length of Hospital Stay
For many patients, laparoscopy means coming home usually the same day. Those who have had to have their gallbladder removed openly can expect to be in the hospital anywhere from 2 to 6 days. Both are estimates and do not take into account any type of surgical complications.
Healing after Laparoscopic Removal
With laparoscopy, the gallbladder is removed through small holes in the abdomen, and patients can expect to feel sore or uncomfortable for a while, typically anywhere from 24 hours to one week. This is not only due to having the gallbladder removed, but also because of gas used to inflate the abdomen. A heating pad can help to alleviate some of the pain and help make the patient more comfortable. Eating a soft diet, resting as much as possible and avoiding foods high in fat will help speed up recovery. Generally the patient can expect to return to work after one to two weeks.
Open Surgery Recovery Time
For patients having an open gallbladder surgery, a longer hospital stay will be necessary. A typical recovery period for this type of gallbladder surgery is 4 to 6 weeks. Patients will have lifting restrictions and be advised to rest as much as possible.
Post Surgery Digestive Issues
With either procedure, digestion may be affected since the gallbladder is no longer present to store bile. This occurs in a small percentage of patients. A soft and low-fat diet is important at first, and patients will be given a recommended post surgical diet to follow at the hospital.
Having some pain is normal and expected. As with any surgery, recovery depends upon a patient's general health and any other medical conditions.