Pain, diarrhea, weight gain, diet change, bloating, trouble breathing, reflux, and tiredness are all things you may experience after gallbladder surgery. Although you will likely only have to stay in the hospital for one night after a laparoscopic gallbladder surgery and three to five days after an open gallbladder surgery, most gallbladder removal patients are affected for a lifetime.
Pain After Gallbladder Surgery:
Ongoing pain after gallbladder surgery is a very real possibility and is often caused by the most common complication in gallbladder surgery, injury to the bile ducts. An injured bile duct may leak, causing pain and possibly even an infection. The degree of the bile duct injury determines the treatment. If it’s a major injury, it will require surgery to repair, while a mild injury may be treated non surgically.
Diet After Gallbladder Surgery:
A special diet must be followed after gallbladder surgery. The liver produces a yellowish-brown fluid called bile, which is made up of water, fats, bile salts, cholesterol and bilirubin. The main functions of the gallbladder are to store, concentrate and then secrete bile into the small intestine to aid in food digestion.
When food passes from the stomach into the small intestine, the gallbladder will contract and send some bile into the small intestine through the common bile duct. In a healthy, properly functioning biliary system (the gallbladder and the series of ducts that connect the gallbladder to the liver and the small intestine,) most of the bile is absorbed in the intestine and returns to the liver in the bloodstream.
After gallbladder surgery, fat cannot be digested properly and the bile can’t be controlled by the body. Therefore, eating too many bad fats overwhelms the stomach because there isn’t enough bile to digest all the bad fats so the body quickly eliminates it through diarrhea.
The best diet after gallbladder surgery involves eliminating (or drastically limiting) the bad fats and eating lots of fresh, whole foods and drinking enough fluids every day to prevent stomach acids from becoming too concentrated. It’s recommended to eat more smaller meals rather than any large meals.
Diarrhea after gallbladder surgery is very common and unfortunately it can last for years. It can improve, over time, without treatment, but it’s still best to avoid certain things so as not to aggravate the digestive system.
Things to Avoid After Gallbladder Surgery:
- Fried/Greasy Foods
- Extra Sweet Foods
- Spicy Foods
- Processed Foods
- Rapid Weight Loss (during rapid weight loss, the liver will secrete additional cholesterol as it metabolizes fat – this can cause additional problems)
Weight After Gallbladder Surgery:
Another common problem is your weight after gallbladder surgery and the weight gain can even start immediately. Even worse, most doctors will tell you there is no connection between gallbladder surgery and weight gain. They may dismiss it as normal weight gain due to age, lack of activity, poor diet, etc. Unfortunately, doctors just won’t acknowledge weight gain as a medical problem caused by gallbladder surgery.
A good thing to do is to keep very detailed notes about what you eat and how much you exercise each day. This may help you prove to your doctor the weight gain is not due to diet or lack of exercise. Even if this doesn’t convince your doctor, it may still help you stay a little more sane, because you’ve at least proved it to yourself. Either way, there is likely no solution to weight gain after gallbladder surgery, because if there were, doctors would probably acknowledge the problem and offer the fix. Despite this, it’s still important to maintain a lifestyle with proper exercise and diet and possibly minimize the amount of weight gain, but for many people, weight gain after gallbladder surgery may just be inevitable.