Gallbladder Removal Surgery
Gallbladder removal surgery, also known as a cholecystectomy, is a very common procedure to treat symptomatic gallstones. The gallbladder is a small, pouch-like organ in the upper right part of your tummy beneath the liver. It stores bile, a fluid produced by the liver that helps to break down fatty foods.
After having your gallbladder removed, your liver still makes enough bile to help with digestion. Most people would not notice any change in their digestive functions after gallbladder removal. However, loose stools can be an issue in the occasional person after gallbladder removal.
Normally, the gallbladder collects and concentrates bile, releasing it when you eat to aid the digestion of fat. When the gallbladder is removed, bile is less concentrated and drains more continuously into the intestines, where it can have a mild laxative effect, hence the diarrhoea. In most cases, the diarrhoea lasts no more than a few weeks to a few months.
Although there is no designated post gallbladder removal diet, the following tips may help you adjust after you’ve had your gallbladder removed:
You may have been on fat free diet before your surgery but there is no need to continue indefinitely on this diet after your gallbladder removal. However, it is advisable to go easy on fatty foods initially. Avoid high-fat foods, fried and greasy foods, and fatty sauces and gravies for at least a week after your surgery. Instead, choose fat-free or low-fat foods. Low-fat foods are those with no more than 3 grams of fat a serving. Check labels and follow the serving size listed.
Increase the fibre in your diet
This can help normalize bowel movements. Add extra fibre, such as oats and barley, to your diet, but do this slowly over weeks. Too much fibre too quickly can make gas and cramping worse.
Eat smaller, more frequent meals
This may ensure a better mix with available bile. A healthy meal should include small amounts of lean protein, such as poultry, fish or fat-free dairy, along with vegetables, fruits and whole grains.
Also make sure you maintain adequate oral fluid intake to remain well hydrated at all times.
Avoid foods that tend to worsen indigestion, bloating and cramping after your surgery, including:
- Dairy products
- Greasy foods
- Very sweet foods
If your symptom of diarrhoea doesn’t improve or becomes more severe, or if you lose weight and become weak, seek the advice of your health care provider. Your doctor may recommend medicines, such as loperamide, which slows down intestinal movement, or medications that decrease the laxative effect of bile, such as cholestyramine (questran).
Your doctor may also suggest that you take a multivitamin to compensate for malabsorption of fat-soluble vitamins.