In this post, we discuss how long it takes to recover from gallbladder surgery and be able to take a bath safely. We also provide you with some important things to keep in mind after gallbladder surgery.
Gallbladder surgery is one of the most common surgeries performed in the United States. More than 10% of all surgical procedures are gallbladder operations. If you've just had your gallbladder removed or planning to do so, you may be wondering when you can start taking a bath again. Well, it all depends, among other things, on how the procedure was done, so the answer might not be the same for everybody.
Who needs it?
Gallbladder surgery is done for various reasons, including removing stones from the gallbladder or removing the gallbladder due to a condition called cholelithiasis. Common symptoms include sudden, intense pain in the upper abdomen, back pain between your shoulder blades, pain in your right shoulder, nausea, or vomiting.
Gallstones can be surgically removed. However, if they don't cause blockage and don't feel any of the symptoms, you may choose not to have the procedure.
Key Takeaways: If you don't feel any of the symptoms, you may not need gallbladder surgery at all. But you can choose to have one if you wish to do so.
How is it done?
This surgery is usually performed laparoscopically, which means it is performed through small incisions in the abdomen. The surgery usually lasts about an hour. The patient may experience mild discomfort during the recovery period. In most cases, the patient will be allowed to go home after the surgery and will be able to return to work on the following day.
In some cases, your doctor may find other problems along the way which require open surgery. It creates a larger incision and, therefore, longer stay and longer recovery period.
Key Takeaways: Laparoscopic gallbladder surgery allows faster healing compared to open surgery. However, your physician may perform open surgery whenever necessary.
Is it safe to take a bath after gallbladder surgery?
For most people who had laparoscopic gallbladder surgery, the recovery period would be much shorter as opposed to those who had open surgery. That's because Laparoscopic surgery is minimally invasive, involving small cuts less than a centimeter long. Think of it like tiny incisions in your abdomen. You may take a bath after 24-48 hours, and you can resume your normal activities after a week.
However, if your doctor sees the need for open surgery, your recovery will be much longer. You'll have to wait 4 to 6 weeks since we're dealing with a larger incision.
Key Takeaways: Taking a shower or bath 24-48 hours after surgery is generally safe or as soon as your incisions are fully healed.
A few reminders to keep in mind
As with any medical procedure, your doctor will give prescriptions and recommendations to ensure proper healing and recovery. Here are some things to keep in mind regardless of the type of surgery:
- Make sure your incisions are completely healed before taking a shower or bath.
- Do not remove the steri-strips covering your incisions. Just cut pieces off that come loose and let the rest fall off on their own.
- Avoid any strenuous activities within 6 weeks after the procedure: no heavy lifting, jogging, or swimming.
- Take your medications as prescribed by your doctor. You may use a mild laxative for your constipation.
Don't hesitate to talk to your physician if you experience severe, persistent pain, swelling, redness, bleeding, high fever, or jaundice (yellowish skin and eyes). You might need emergency care right then and rule out any life-threatening condition.
Key Takeaways: Even if your incisions are fully healed, your body still needs more time to repair itself. Four to six weeks after surgery is considered safe.
You don't want to take a shower or bath too early, but you don't have to wait too long either. Our medical community has come a long way, innovating safer, less invasive procedures like laparoscopic gallbladder surgery. With proper care, you'll be able to go back to your normal routine much sooner.