Cholecystectomy, more commonly known as gallbladder removal surgery, is recommended to patients who have gallstones or severe gallbladder infections.
It is estimated that, in Singapore, gallstones affect 10-16% of our population, and in most cases, people may not experience any symptoms until the condition worsens.
“The main function of the gallbladder is to store bile, which is a fluid made by your liver to break down fats that you eat. The bile flows into the small intestine and helps to digest the fats that foods contain. The gallbladder also acts as a reservoir for bile that is not being used by our body.”
In cases where gallbladder disease occurs, blockage in the gallbladder ducts may lead to intense pain and discomfort. In such cases, it may be recommended that you undergo surgery to remove your gallstones and gallbladder entirely.
This article explores multiple aspects of gallbladder surgery and answers your questions about a cholecystectomy.
What Is Gallbladder Surgery?
A Gallbladder Surgery or Cholecystectomy is a common surgery used to treat cholecystitis (gallbladder inflammation). This surgery is recommended if you have pain or other symptoms from gallstones or if your gallbladder is not functioning normally and requires immediate medical attention.
Patients who undergo gallbladder surgery will have their entire gallbladder removed to prevent a recurrence of the inflammation in order to improve their condition.
What Are the Side Effects of Having Your Gallbladder Removed?
Patients who experience severe inflammation may have the gallbladder removed entirely.
You may experience loose or watery stools after a gallbladder removal. Removing a gallbladder involves rerouting the bile from the liver to the small intestine. Bile no longer goes through the gallbladder, and it becomes less concentrated. The result is a laxative effect that causes diarrhoea.
Following a gallbladder removal, you may be recommended to eat a diet low in fat so that you release less bile.
How Long Does It Take to Recover From Gallbladder Surgery?
Most patients who undergo gallbladder surgery opt to do it laparoscopically.
Laparoscopic cholecystectomies require smaller incisions to your body and are less invasive. As such, if you undergo laparoscopic surgery, you are typically able to resume your regular activities after three days and fully recover in 2 weeks following the surgery if there are no complications.
Can Gallstones Come Back After Surgery?
Most patients who undergo gallbladder surgery will observe high levels of success in treating their condition. However, in some cases, gallstones may return after the surgery even if the gallbladder has been removed entirely.
In such cases, gallstones no longer develop in the gallbladder but instead develop in the bile duct, leading to bile duct stones.
To prevent the recurrence of the condition, you are advised to observe a strict change in the diet to lower fat intake while also ensuring that you maintain a healthy weight range.
If you suspect that you have a recurring gallbladder condition, speak to our doctor for a proper assessment to prevent the condition from worsening.
Can I Survive After My Gallbladder Has Been Removed?
You can lead a perfectly normal life without a gallbladder. Your liver will still make enough bile to digest your food. However, instead of being stored in the gallbladder, it drips continuously into your digestive system.
With that said, there may be some lifestyle changes required to improve your quality of life while helping you ease digestive symptoms, such as:
- Adopting a low-fat diet
- Eating small and frequent meals
- Avoiding large dinners
Most patients who undergo surgery to remove their gallbladder report a better outlook as they no longer experience the pain and discomfort associated with gallbladder diseases.
Is Gallbladder Surgery Insurance Claimable?
In Singapore, gallbladder surgeries are typically covered by insurers.
However, if you are unsure about your insurance coverage and financing options, speak to our friendly clinic staff for advice on the potential fees you need to be aware of before opting for gallbladder surgery.
When Should Gallbladder Surgery Be Considered?
Most people with gallstones may not experience symptoms or know they have it until a doctor diagnoses them. However, you should consider gallbladder surgery if you experience the following symptoms such as:
- Sudden, intense abdominal pain that may last for several hours
- Pain that spreads to the back or shoulder blade
- Nausea or vomiting
- Yellowing of your skin or eyes (jaundice)
- Fever or chills
Blockage in the gallbladder duct often leads to unbearable pain, a sign that the blockage is leading to inflammation.
If you suspect that you may be experiencing gallbladder disease, schedule an appointment with our doctor for a more precise diagnosis.
What Are the Possible Side Effects of Having Your Gallbladder Removed?
As with most surgeries, side effects from a procedure may include pain at the surgical site along with the possibility of infection.
However, most patients who undergo gallbladder surgery to have their gallbladder removed will experience a change in their diet. That is, the need to consume a low-fat diet.
As bile is no longer stored in the gallbladder, it is common for bile to leak into the intestines, causing a reduced amount of bile to be available. To ensure that the body can digest the fats effectively, eating a low-fat diet would help ensure that the remaining bile can digest any fat consumed.
Other side effects may include diarrhoea, flatulence, constipation (from slow digestion), and jaundice.
Most people with gallstones may not experience any symptoms. However, gallbladder disease can be highly disruptive and cause immense pain.
In cases where the condition is intense, gallbladder surgeries should be considered the recommended treatment form to prevent recurrence of symptoms and condition.
While gallbladder surgeries require making a considerable change in your diet, most people who have their gallbladder removed report a positive outlook instead of the complications that may arise from the removal.
If you are bothered by your condition and are unsure about your options, schedule an assessment with our doctor to better understand how you can manage and treat your condition.
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