Cholecystectomy Home Care
The gallbladder is a sac under the liver. It
stores bile made in the liver. Bile aids in the
break down of fats. Bile is released from the
gallbladder into the upper small bowel in
response to food (especially fats). Problems
which slow or block the flow of bile out of
the gallbladder can result in inflammation
and/or gall stones.
ξ In open gallbladder surgery (open
cholecystectomy), the gallbladder is
taken out through a wound in the
abdomen that is 4 - 8" long.
ξ In laparoscopic surgery (lap
cholecystectomy), you will have 3-5
small wounds. The gallbladder is
taken out through the wound near
After surgery, bile flows from the liver
(where it is made) through the common bile
duct and into the small bowel. Because the
gallbladder is absent, bile no longer can be
stored between meals. In most people, this
has little or no effect on digestion.
Getting Ready for Surgery
ξ You may need to make plans to be
off work for a week or longer.
ξ Talk to your doctor. Do chores that
require heavy lifting ahead of time
and make plans for someone to help
you with them after surgery for a few
It’s normal to have pain. Take the pain pills
prescribed by your doctor. You may also
take acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or ibuprofen
(Motrin®, Advil®) to help manage pain. You
can alternate these medicines with the
prescription narcotic pain medicines, but do
not take more than 4000mg of
acetaminophen in a day.
If your surgery was done using a
laparoscope, you may have some pain in
your shoulder, neck or back. This is caused
by the gas used to inflate your abdomen
during surgery. This should only last for 1-2
days. Heating pads will help relieve this.
Please use heat on the lowest setting, for no
more than 15 minutes at a time.
Look at your wound daily. Watch for signs
Your wound will be slightly red, swollen,
and there may be a small amount of pink
drainage for a few days. This is normal.
Keep your wound dry for 2 days. When you
can shower, wash the wound with a mild
soap and water. Pat it dry. You do not need
to wear a bandage unless the wound is
draining, your clothes rub on it, or it is in a
skin fold. If you do wear a bandage, change
it at least daily and more often as needed.
Do not soak your wound in a hot tub,
bathtub, or swimming pool until it is healed,
which may be 2 weeks.
Do not lift more than 10 pounds for 4-6
weeks if you had the open surgery. If you
had the laparoscopic surgery, do not lift
greater than 10 pounds for 2-3 weeks.
Check with your doctor before going back to
Sexual activity may be resumed when you
You may not be able to drive for 1 week or
longer. You may not drive while taking
narcotic pain pills.
You may eat what you like after surgery. It
is best to avoid fatty foods at first and slowly
add them to your diet.
A diet with enough water and fiber can
prevent constipation. Eat a well balanced
diet daily. Include:
ξ 6-8 (8 oz.) glasses of fluid each day.
ξ At least 4 servings of fruits or
ξ At least 4 servings of breads or
cereals (2 of these servings should be
You may also take stool softeners (docusate
sodium) and a bulk fiber laxative
(Metamucil, etc.). Follow package
When to Call the Doctor
ξ Whites of your eyes turn yellow
ξ Skin develops a yellow color
ξ Dark urine (the color of tea)
ξ Itchy skin
ξ Open area in wound
Signs of Infection
ξ Pus or blood
ξ Increasing swelling, firmness, or
ξ Pain not controlled by pain pills
ξ Temperature by mouth, above 100.4 θ
F for two readings 4 hours apart
Surgery Clinic, Monday – Friday, 8:00–
4:30pm, (608) 263-7502
This is a 24 hour/day number. After hours,
weekends and holidays, (608) 262-0486
Ask for the doctor on call for Dr.
Leave your name and phone number with
the area code. The doctor will call you back.
Toll Free Number: 1-800-323-8942
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 9/2017 University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#4432.