Knowing that you have to have surgery can be daunting, but learning how to prepare for it can help you feel less worried.
This guide aims to help you understand laparoscopic and robotic gallbladder removal surgery and what you can do to prepare for it. Discover how to prepare for laparoscopic or robotic surgery when booked in for gallbladder removal with Mr Achal Khanna at his private clinic in Milton Keynes.
When is gallbladder removal surgery necessary?
The gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ located under the liver. It plays a crucial role in the digestive system — its main function is to store and release bile, a fluid produced by the liver that helps in the digestion of fats. The gallbladder releases bile into the small intestine, where it breaks down fats and helps your body to absorb nutrients.
Sometimes the gallbladder may become inflamed, infected or develop gallstones, which are hard deposits of digestive fluid. When this happens, it can cause significant pain, discomfort and digestive issues. In these cases, gallbladder removal surgery, also known as a cholecystectomy, may be necessary to alleviate the symptoms.
Some common symptoms that may indicate the need for gallbladder removal surgery include:
- Severe abdominal pain
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes)
These symptoms can be indicative of a gallbladder infection or inflammation. Additionally, if gallstones are present, they may cause a blockage in the bile duct, which can cause severe pain and requires immediate medical attention.
How is gallbladder removal surgery performed?
Laparoscopic gallbladder removal surgery is a minimally invasive surgical procedure used to remove the gallbladder. This procedure is performed under general anaesthesia and typically takes around one to two hours to complete.
During the procedure, small incisions are made in the abdomen, and a laparoscope (a long, thin implement with a light and very small camera on the end) is inserted through one of the incisions. This gives the surgeon a full view of the gallbladder and surrounding area on a monitor. Surgical instruments are then inserted through the other incisions to remove the gallbladder.
Laparoscopic surgery offers several advantages over traditional open surgery, including smaller incisions, less pain and a quicker recovery time. People typically experience less scarring and can return to normal activities sooner.
Gallbladder surgery can also be performed with robotic surgery. This type of surgery involves the use of robotic technology to help complete the procedure.
The most commonly used type of robotic surgery is done with robotic arms that have cameras and surgical tools attached to the ends of them. The surgeon can then control the arms remotely from a computer console near the operating table.
Robotic surgery has many benefits including:
- Fewer surgical complications
- Decreased blood loss and pain
- Smaller scars due to smaller incisions
- A clearer view of the body so more complex procedures can be performed
How long is gallbladder removal surgery?
The duration of a laparoscopic or robotic gallbladder removal surgery can vary depending on several factors. On average, the surgery takes between one to two hours.
The size of the gallbladder can affect the duration of the surgery. Larger gallbladders may take longer to remove as the surgery becomes more complex. Additionally, if you have any underlying health conditions or complications, such as obesity or a history of abdominal surgery, the surgery may take longer.
Laparoscopic and robotic gallbladder removal surgery are low-risk procedures, and you can sometimes go home on the same day. However, in some cases, you may have to stay in the hospital for up to three days. It is important to follow post-operative instructions provided by your surgeon to ensure proper healing and a smooth recovery.
Gallbladder removal surgery risks
As with any surgery, there are some potential risks associated with laparoscopic gallbladder removal surgery, including:
- Injury to surrounding organs such as the liver, bile ducts or intestines
- Complications related to general anaesthetic
- Blood clots
- Respiratory problems
Complications may also occur during robotic surgery. These can include:
- Scar tissue prevents the robotic arms from completing the procedure, so larger incisions may have to be made
- Nerve damage or compression — this is a rare complication
It is worth noting that gallbladder removal surgery is considered a relatively safe procedure and complications are rare.
Several factors may increase your risk of surgery complications, such as:
- Previous abdominal surgeries
- Chronic illness or underlying health conditions such as diabetes or heart disease
- Infection at the site of surgery
- Prolonged surgery time
- Improper post-operative care or failure to follow post-operative instructions
Your surgeon will talk through the potential risks or complications of gallbladder removal surgery with you before the procedure.
Preparing for gallbladder removal surgery
Before your operation, your surgeon will explain how you can prepare for your gallbladder removal surgery. You’ll be able to discuss what will happen before, during and after the procedure, and if you are unsure about any part of the process, you can ask any questions you may have.
Diet before gallbladder removal surgery
Before undergoing gallbladder removal surgery, your surgeon may suggest that you change your diet. This is to help prepare your body for surgery and your recovery.
These dietary changes may include:
- Avoiding fatty or greasy foods in the weeks leading up to surgery: fatty or greasy foods can increase the workload of the gallbladder, which may cause pain or discomfort.
- Avoiding alcohol for at least 24 hours before surgery: alcohol can be taxing on the liver and may interfere with the body’s ability to heal properly after surgery.
- Eating a balanced diet: a balanced diet rich in whole grains, lean protein, fruits and vegetables can help ensure that the body is getting the nutrients it needs to heal after surgery.
- Drinking plenty of water: it is important to stay hydrated before surgery to keep your body functioning well.
Following a healthy diet before surgery is important because it can help reduce the risk of complications during and after surgery. A healthy diet can also help the body heal more quickly, which may reduce the length of the hospital stay and speed up your recovery time.
You will be told when you need to stop eating and drinking before your surgery. This is typically at least four hours before your gallbladder removal surgery.
What to wear
On the day of your surgery, it is recommended that you wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing such as:
- A loose-fitting shirt or blouse that can be easily removed
- Comfortable trousers or leggings
- Slip-on shoes or trainers that can be easily taken off and put back on
You may need to wear compression stockings to help prevent blood clots from forming in the veins in your legs. You should also avoid wearing any jewellery, makeup or nail polish on the day of surgery.
When packing for the hospital stay, you might want to consider bringing the following items:
- Comfortable, loose-fitting clothing for the hospital stay and the trip home
- Personal hygiene items such as a toothbrush, toothpaste and soap
- Any medications that you are currently taking
- A book or magazine to pass the time
- A charger for your phone or other electronic devices
- A small bag for personal items such as glasses or hearing aids
It is important to check with your chosen hospital to ensure that you have everything you need for your hospital stay. They can provide you with specific recommendations and instructions based on your circumstances.
Before gallbladder removal surgery, it is important to discuss which medications you should continue taking and which ones you should stop taking.
Some medications may need to be avoided before surgery to reduce the risk of bleeding or other complications, including:
- Blood thinners such as aspirin and warfarin
- Herbal supplements such as echinacea
If you take any type of medication at all, make sure you let your surgeon know so that they can advise you on what to stop taking and when.
What to expect on the day
On the day of gallbladder removal surgery, you will typically be asked to arrive at the hospital a few hours before the scheduled surgery time. This allows time for check-in procedures, including verifying personal information and medical history, reviewing the surgical procedure and risks and completing any necessary tests or paperwork.
Once you are ready for surgery, you will be taken to the operating room and given general anaesthetic so that you will be asleep during the procedure.
After the surgery is complete, you will be taken to a recovery room where you will be monitored for a few hours as the anaesthetic wears off. Once you are awake and stable, you will be transferred to a hospital room.
It is common for people to experience a range of emotions and concerns before and during surgery, such as anxiety, fear and uncertainty. Talk to your surgeon about any concerns you may have. They will be able to provide you with helpful information to ease your worries.
Talking to your family or friends can also help to reduce feelings of worry and fear.
How long is recovery after gallbladder removal surgery?
After gallbladder removal surgery, you may spend up to three days in the hospital before being discharged. Pain management is an important part of the gallbladder removal recovery process, and you will be given medication to help manage any discomfort.
Following surgery, it is recommended to follow a low-fat diet for several weeks to aid in digestion and to avoid putting undue stress on the digestive system. You can slowly introduce more fatty foods as your body adjusts to the changes. It is also recommended to avoid heavy lifting and strenuous activities for several weeks to allow the body time to heal properly.
Your recovery time can vary depending on a variety of factors, such as your age, overall health and whether there were any complications during surgery. In general, most people can expect to resume normal activities after a week, but it can take up to six weeks to fully recover.
Preparation for gallbladder removal surgery is just as important as recovery, so you must follow any guidelines that you are given.
If you have concerns about your gallbladder or are looking to undergo gallbladder removal surgery, book a consultation with Mr Achal Khanna. His expertise and top-quality patient care will ensure that you receive the treatment you need to improve your health.