In the hospital
After the procedure, you will be taken to the recovery room to be watched. Your recovery process will depend on the type of surgery and the type of anesthesia you had. Once your blood pressure, pulse, and breathing are stable and you are awake and alert, you will be taken to your hospital room.
A laparoscopic cholecystectomy may be done on an outpatient basis. In this case, you may be discharged home from the recovery room. You will get pain medicine as needed. A nurse may give it to you. Or you may give it to yourself through a device connected to your IV line.
You may have a thin plastic tube that goes through your nose into your stomach. This is to remove air that you swallow. The tube will be taken out when your bowels are working normally. You won’t be able to eat or drink until the tube is removed.
You may have one or more drains in the incision if an open procedure was done. The drains will be removed in a day or so. You might be discharged with the drain still in and covered with a dressing. Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions for taking care of it.
You will be asked to get out of bed a few hours after a laparoscopic procedure or by the next day after an open procedure. Depending on your situation, you may be given liquids to drink a few hours after surgery. You will slowly be able to eat more solid foods as tolerated. You should schedule a follow-up visit with your healthcare provider. This is usually 2 to 3 weeks after surgery.
Once you are home, it’s important to keep the incision clean and dry. Your healthcare provider will give you specific bathing instructions. If stitches or surgical staples are used, they will be removed during a follow-up office visit. If adhesive strips are used, they should be kept dry and usually will fall off within a few days.
The incision and your abdominal muscles may ache, especially after long periods of standing. If you had a laparoscopic surgery, you may feel pain from any carbon dioxide gas still in your belly. This pain may last for a few days. It should feel a bit better each day.
Take a pain reliever as recommended by your healthcare provider. Aspirin or other pain medicines may raise your risk of bleeding. Be sure to take only medicines your healthcare provider has approved.
Walking and limited movement are generally fine. But you should avoid strenuous activity. Your healthcare provider will tell you when you can return to work and go back to normal activities.
Call your healthcare provider if you have any of the following:
Fever or chills
Redness, swelling, bleeding, or other drainage from the incision site
More pain around the incision site
Yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes (jaundice)
Belly or abdominal pain, cramping, or swelling
No bowel movement or gas for 3 days
Pain behind your breastbone