Not every patient with gallstones needs surgery. For instance, if you do not have symptoms or have had only one gallstone attack with mild pain, you probably do not need treatment. But once a patient develops symptoms from gallstones, physicians generally recommend having the gallbladder removed before patients continue to have worsening symptoms.
Here are some key points to remember when considering gallbladder surgery:
- If you feel comfortable managing mild and infrequent gallstone attacks, and if your doctor thinks that you aren’t likely to have serious complications, it’s okay not to have surgery.
- Most doctors recommend surgery if you have had repeated attacks. If you have had one attack of gallstone pain, you may want to wait to see whether you have more.
- Surgery is the best way to prevent gallstone attacks. The surgery is very common, so doctors have a lot of experience with it.
- Your body will work fine without a gallbladder. There may be small changes in how you digest food, but you probably won’t notice them.
So what exactly is gallstone surgery?
Laparoscopic gallbladder surgery is the most common surgery done to remove the gallbladder. The doctor inserts a lighted viewing instrument called a laparoscope and surgical tools into your belly through several small cuts. This type of surgery is very safe. People who have it usually recover enough in 7 to 10 days to go back to work or to their normal routine.
Dr. Robert Knowles, a minimally-invasive surgeon with Bon Secours Hampton Roads currently performs single incision laparascopic gallbladder surgeries. Because the incision is smaller, performed through the navel, he’s sees huge improvements in patient outcomes: “Patients are off their medication within the third post-operative day and can’t discern that they have had surgery within a week.”
If you’ve experienced the pain and nausea associated with gallstones talk to your physician about your eligibility for gallbladder surgery.