You had a procedure called a laparoscopic cholecystectomy. Your doctor made 1 - 3 small cuts in your belly and used a special instrument called a laparoscope to take out your gallbladder.
What to Expect at Home
Recovering from laparoscopic cholecystectomy usually takes around 1 - 3 weeks. You may have some of these symptoms as you recover:
Pain in your belly. You may also feel pain in 1 or both shoulders. This pain comes from the gas still left in your belly after the surgery. The pain should ease over several days to a week.
A sore throat from the breathing tube. Sucking on ice chips or gargling may be soothing.
Nausea, and maybe throwing up (vomiting). Your surgeon can provide you with nausea medicine if needed.
Loose stools after eating. This may last 4 - 8 weeks.
Bruising around your wounds. This will go away on its own.
Skin redness around your wounds. This is normal.
Start walking after surgery. Begin your everyday activities as soon as you feel up to it. Move around the house and shower, and use the stairs during your first week home. If it hurts when you do something, stop doing that activity.
You may be able to drive after 2 or 3 days if you are not taking narcotic pain drugs. You may lift 15 pounds or less. No heavy lifting or straining for the first 1 - 2 weeks.
You may be able to go back to a desk job within a week. Talk to your doctor if your work is physical.
If sutures, staples, or glue were used to close your skin, you may remove the wound dressings and take a shower the day after surgery.
If tape strips (Steri-strips) were used to close your skin, cover the wounds with plastic wrap before showering, for the first week after surgery. Do not try to wash the Steri-strips off. Let them fall off on their own.
Do not soak in a bathtub or hot tub, or go swimming, until your doctor tells you it is okay.
Eat a normal diet. But you may want to avoid greasy or spicy foods for a while.
Make a follow-up appointment with your doctor for 1 - 2 weeks after your surgery.
When to Call the Doctor
Call your doctor if:
Your temperature is above 101 °F.
Your surgical wounds are bleeding, red or warm to the touch or you have a thick, yellow or green, or milky drainage.
You have pain that is not helped with your pain medicines.
It is hard to breathe.
You have a cough that does not go away.
You cannot drink or eat.
Your skin or the white part of your eyes turns yellow.
Your stools are a gray color.
Chari RS, Shah SA. Biliary System. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery, 18th ed. St. Louis, M0: WB Saunders; 2008: chap. 54.
Siddiqui T. Early versus delayed laparoscopic cholecystectomy for acute cholecystitis: a meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. Am J Surg. Jan 2008; 195(1): 40-7.
Ann Rogers, MD, Associate Professor of Surgery; Director, Penn State Surgical Weight Loss Program, Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.