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patient education : 14267--Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy

Information for patients about self-care after surgery for cholecystectomy via laparoscopy.

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    Laparoscopic cholecystectomy

    What to expect as you recover

    If general anesthesia is given you may feel “funny” for 2-3 days, have trouble with memory and feel more tired.  You should not drive, drink alcohol or make any big decisions for at least 2-3 days.

    Nutrition:

    • Eat what you feel like you can tolerate. 
    • Avoid high fat foods for 4-6 weeks.
    • Try to eat high-fiber foods to avoid constipation
    • Drink 8-10 glasses of water daily. 

    Activity:

    Patients usually take 2-3 weeks to return to normal activity. 

    • Slowly increase your activity daily.  
    • Try to get up and walk around every hour while awake to prevent any blood clots from forming. 
    • If you are sexually active, you should be able to resume sexual activity in about 14 days. 

    Bowel movements:

    • You may experience loose bowel movements (or diarrhea) that is yellow or orange in color from bile passing through your intestines.  This may last 6 weeks or so after surgery, but generally improves over time.  You can try digestive probiotics to regulate the “good” bacteria in your gut.  This often helps with bloating as well.
    • Some pain medicines will cause constipation.  Avoid straining with bowel movements by increasing fiber in your diet and drinking 8-10 glasses of water each day. 
    • Daily exercise and walking will also help. 
    • You may take stool softeners (docusate sodium).  These are available “over the counter” from any drug store. 

    Return to work or school:

    • You may return to work or school 1-2 weeks after surgery. 
    • You should avoid lifting anything over 10 lbs (full gallon milk jug) for the 1st week
    • Lift nothing over 20 lbs for the next 5 weeks. 
    • If it hurts, don’t lift it.

    Wound care:

    • Always wash your hands before and after touching near your incision site. 
    • Do not soak in a bathtub, get into a hot tub or swimming pool until your incision is healed.  You may take a shower 2 days after your surgery unless you are told otherwise. 
    • A small amount of drainage from the incision is normal.  If your dressing is soaked with blood, or develops foul smelling drainage, call your surgeon’s office.
    • If you have Steri-Strips in place, they will fall off in 7-10 days.  Do not pull them off!
    • If you have a skin glue covering the incision, allow the glue to flake off on its own.  Do not pick it off!
    • Avoid wearing tight or rough clothes.  It may rub your incision and prevent healing. 
    • Your scar will heal in about 4-6 weeks and will become softer and continue to fade over time.  Once your incision is healed, you may gently rub unscented lotion over scar to soften it. 

    Pain:

    • You will have pain and discomfort following surgery.  You may experience pain around your shoulders, neck, and chest from the gas that was used to expand your abdomen during surgery. 
    • Take your pain medication as directed by your surgeon.  Non-narcotic pain medicine such as NSAIDS (ibuprofen), is preferable and often controls the pain.  If you have a chronic kidney problem or stomach ulcers, please talk to your surgeon before taking ibuprofen. 
    • Narcotic pain medicine may be given for severe pain. 
    • You may apply ice over your incision 15-20 minutes every hour.  Cover ice pack with a towel.  This can decrease swelling and pain.  
    • Splint your abdomen by placing a pillow over your stomach with firm pressure before coughing or sneezing to help reduce pain.

    When to call your surgeon’s office:

    • Begin running a fever greater than 101 degrees F
    • Increased or worsening abdominal pain
    • Swelling, redness, bleeding or bad-smelling drainage from your incision
    • Problems with urination
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Any jaundice (yellowing of skin or eyes)
    • No bowel movement for 2-3 days

    Disclaimer:

    This information is provided to educate you about your specific surgical procedures.  It does not replace of instructions given by your surgical team based on your specific needs.

    For more information please visit www.facs.org/education

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