When the gallbladder become severely infected or inflamed or because of a buildup of gallstones, patients may undergo a cholecystectomy or gallbladder removal surgery. While this serves to relieve symptoms such as indigestion, serious pain, diarrhea and bloating, and in many cases may be absolutely necessary depending on how badly the gallbladder is inflamed, it is not a cure-all for digestive problems. Understand the purpose of a cholecystectomy and you may have a good idea of what to expect after gallbladder surgery.
The Lonely Liver
Gallbladder removal surgery is a solution to an organ that is no longer capable of functioning properly or that may even be life-threatening. Without the gallbladder to hold and release bile, the liver has lost its support organ. It is left to produce and distribute bile to remove toxins and digest fats on its own.
The liver may dump bile without the gallbladder to hold this substance and release it as needed, causing diarrhea. Another possible problem is reduced bile production. This can lead to pain and the formation of more stones. If more stones form in the liver and clog the bile ducts, it is possible that more surgery will be necessary to remove the stones.
While for some people life after gallbladder surgery may prove to be a welcome relief of the symptoms associated with gallbladder disorders, for others problems may still arise soon after surgery or years in the future.
There is a way to make life after gallbladder surgery a more positive experience. Making a healthy diet a priority can help to support the liver to function properly and help to prevent the formation of more bile stones. What does a healthy gallbladder diet involve? A reduction or elimination of processed, fried, and fatty foods and a full embrace of cleansing foods.
Hydrogenated fats, which are found in many packaged products are a major problem for the liver. Saturated fat is also difficult for the body to digest without the help of the gallbladder. Stay away from meats, eggs, gluten, margarine, dairy, spicy foods, alcohol, black tea, coffee, carbonated beverages, citrus, beans, and some vegetables (cabbage, cauliflower, turnips, broccoli, and brussel sprouts).
Foods that will support the body after surgery include:
- Sweet potatoes
- Cold water fish
- Flax seed oil
- Hemp seed oil
- Olive Oil
Focus on fiber, especially from fruits and vegetables, healthy unsaturated fats from fish, avocados, and nutritional oils, and plenty of fresh fruit and vegetable juices and purified water. As you give your body time to purify and tone the liver with beneficial foods, over time you may be able to handle poultry, dairy, beans and other foods. Going back to a diet that is high in saturated fat or processed foods is not a good idea.
After having surgery you are able to continue with normal physical activities after you have had your follow-up appointment. There is no reason not to continue with whatever exercise regiment that you already had after having the gallbladder removed. Allowing your body time to recover from the surgery however is a good idea. Also, avoiding heavy lifting for two to four weeks is recommended.
Immediate Side Effects of Surgery
For one or more days after surgery it is normal to experience pain and slower thought processes. Your doctor may have prescribed a medication for the initial pain. Give yourself time to get over the experience, both physically and psychologically. If you experience any serious side effects, such as a fever, chills, severe pain, significant bleeding, difficulty breathing, of pus around the incisions then contact your doctor.
What to expect after gallbladder surgery? The same need to eat a healthy diet and take care of your well-being. While the gallbladder may no longer be something to worry about and many of the severe symptoms should be gone, it is even more important to support your liver so it is able to function properly.
Page, Linda. “Healthy Healing: A Guide to Self-Healing for Everyone, 11th Edition” (Traditional Wisdom, 2003).
Balch, Phyllis A. " Prescription for Nutritional Healing.” Fourth Edition (Penguin Books, 2006).
Gallbladder Attack https://www.gallbladderattack.com/gallbladderdiet.shtml#gallbladderdiet
“Post-Operative Instructions Following Laparoscopic Gallbladder Surgery” https://www.usasurg.org/surgical/postlapc.htm
photo by Darwin Bell (CC/flickr) https://www.flickr.com/photos/darwinbell/295804450/sizes/m/in/photostream/