You had a procedure called a laparoscopic cholecystectomy. Your doctor made 1 to 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 will take about 1 to 3 weeks for most people. You may have some of these symptoms as you recover:
Pain in your belly. You may also feel pain in one 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. Your surgeon can provide you with nausea medicine if needed.
Loose stools after eating. This may last 4 to 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 strong pain drugs (narcotics). You may lift 15 pounds or less. DO NOT do any heavy lifting or straining for the first 1 to 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 take off 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. You may want to avoid greasy or spicy foods for a while.
Go for a follow-up visit with your doctor 1 to 2 weeks after your surgery.
When to Call the Doctor
Call your doctor if:
Your temperature is above 101 °F (38.3°C).
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.
Jackson PG, Evans SRT. Biliary System. In: Townsend CM Jr, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 55.
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. PMID: 18070735 Available at: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=18070735.
Jenifer K. Lehrer, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Frankford-Torresdale Hospital, Aria Health System, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.