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What to Expect from Gallbladder Surgery

Prior to Surgery

  • Talk to your doctor about any medications/vitamins/herbs you are taking as you may need to stop certain ones before surgery.
  • Stop taking aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn), Clopidogrel (Plavix), warfarin (Coumadin), and other blood thinners one week prior to surgery.
  • Certain diet drugs or St. John's Wort should not be used for the two weeks prior to surgery.
  • Discuss any possible bleeding disorders or other medical conditions that you may have
  • The day before surgery, do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before the surgery.
  • The surgeon may ask you empty your colon and cleanse your intestines prior to surgery by drinking only clear liquids for one or several days prior to surgery. These include: water, clear chicken or beef broths, apple, grape or cranberry juice, Tang, Hawaiian Punch, lemonade, Kool Aid, Gatorade, tea (sweet or unsweet), black or sweetened coffee, clear jello, popsicles without fruit or cream and Italian ices.
  • You will have blood samples taken in case you need a blood transfusion.
  • Do not smoke. This will help you to recover quicker.

On the Day of the Surgery

  • Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before the surgery.
  • Take the drugs your doctor told you to take with a small sip of water.
  • Your doctor or nurse will tell you when to arrive at the hospital.

After Surgery

  • You will stay in the hospital up to one day, depending on your surgeon's instructions.
  • You may experience some nausea and vomiting after surgery since the procedure was done in your abdominal region. You will be encouraged to sip liquids to reduce these sensations.
  • Walking is encouraged, based on your energy level.
  • You will be able to remove dressings and shower one or two days after surgery.

Recovery: What to Expect in the Next Few Weeks

  • Most patients will feel better within seven days following surgery and can resume some normal activities, such as driving, walking and some duties at work; however, do not lift, push or pull any heavy objects until you are cleared by your surgeon.
  • Full recovery takes four to six weeks to allow for internal healing.

Alternative Names

Gallbladder removal; gallstone surgery; laparoscopy gallbladder surgery.

Gallbladder Surgery Q&A

What does the procedure involve?

Four incisions are made while the patient is under general anesthesia. A tiny camera is inserted to visualize and magnify the organs. An x-ray may be performed to show the surgeon where the stones are located to ensure that all are removed. Stones may be removed from the bile duct prior to removal of the gallbladder.

How many incisions are made?

Four tiny incisions are made in the abdomen.

How long do I stay in the hospital?

In most cases, patients stay no more than a day. In some cases, patients may be discharged the same day.

What is the recovery time?

Most patients are recovered within a week, but a full recovery takes four to six weeks. Patients can work (light duty only) and drive after a week, but are asked to not lift, push or pull heavy objects.

What reasons would the surgeon have to perform an open surgery instead of a minimally invasive procedure?

The surgeon may recommend an open procedure due to a patient’s weight or history of prior abdominal surgery that has left scar tissue, making visualization of organs with the camera more difficult.

WakeMed has many board-certified general surgeons who perform laparoscopic gallbladder removal. Find a WakeMed surgeon by clicking or calling WakeMed Doctor Choice at 919-350-8900.