Gallstones don’t always require surgery, and you may already be aware of this fact. Most gallstones do not cause any symptoms, and these are referred to as ‘silent’ gallstones. But the kind of gallstones you have may also affect your likelihood of being recommended for surgery. For instance, there are two main kinds of gallstones, pigment, and cholesterol. Cholesterol gallstones are sometimes effectively treated without surgery, but the same is not always true with pigment gallstones. Pigment gallstones are either black or brown, and if you have too much bilirubin in your blood, this can result in pigment gallstones. Your doctor can try treating it with non-surgical remedies such as shock wave lithotripsy, endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, or oral dissolution therapy. Still, if these attempts do not work, then you may have to go through surgery. But what can you expect with gallstone surgery? Here’s your definitive guide.
Preparing for surgery
Your surgeon, such as the gallbladder surgery London specialists from The London Surgical Group, will provide you with clear instructions on surgery preparation. First, you will go through a complete physical assessment and examination to determine if you are in good condition for surgery. Still, once you go through the examination and are deemed healthy, they will give you more instructions to prepare yourself for the procedure.
Your surgeon can, for instance, tell you to stop drinking or eating before surgery, as confirmed by the same gallstone surgery London experts. They will also ask you to stop taking some particular medications, like blood thinners, supplements, or medicines with an effect on the immune system, prior to surgery.
Kinds of surgery
In most cases, laparoscopic surgery is recommended. This is when your surgeon uses general anaesthesia and makes a series of small incisions to insert various devices into the abdomen to have gallbladder access. Next, they will use a tiny camera to see into the area and use another device to carry out the gallbladder removal surgery. Afterwards, they will seal the cuts with staples or stitches.
If your surgeon determines that you need an open surgical procedure, perhaps due to having a seriously inflamed gallbladder or having a gallbladder that is severely infected, they will make one large incision to remove the gallbladder manually. The surgeon may also recommend open surgery if someone has bleeding problems or is obese/overweight.
Taking care of yourself after the procedure
Your recovery period will depend on the kind of surgery you went through. With laparoscopic cholecystectomy, you can typically go home on the same day or the day after. You can also expect to go back to your regular activities within a week. With open surgery, you may be required to stay in hospital for a few days to up to a week, and you can expect to return to your regular activities in a month.
To ensure fast healing, keep your cuts or incisions dry and clean, and change your bandages often. In addition, you may request pain medication to manage pain or discomfort. Your surgeon may also recommend making some minor changes in your diet for the first few weeks, such as staying away from heavy or hard-to-digest food and eating light. It also pays to stay active as soon as possible, and you can do some walking or do some light exercising as soon as your surgeon approves it.