Feedback after liver op

Hi

I’ve had a liver dissection 9 weeks ago, had a large cyst removed from my liver, which was not cancerous, and had my gallbladder removed too. I was in hospital for six days, all went well.

When I first went for my consultancy the surgeon told me, recovery would be four or five weeks, (yea right) then the specialist nurse said 7 to 8 weeks and various website say 10-12 weeks etc. one doctor in hospital said take in easy for 6 months!

I’ve gone back to work, I only work part-time in an office so it not strenuous and friends and family keep trying to reassure me, that I’ve had a big operation with a larger incision but I must admit I felt a bit neglected by the consultant, my post-op took about 10 minutes, he quickly looked at my wound, which he said was healing nicely and he said all was good and I’m to have a CT scan in one year’s times. At the time I thought great, no more hospital for me.

Well If any one would be so kind as to give me a bit of feedback, from someone that actual had the same op as me I would be grateful and if anyone could tell me whether I should still be feeling pain at this stage. I stopped taking any painkillers at about the second / third week, I know its difficult to remember when your well, how you felt and when you felt better but if I describe how I’m feeling perhaps it might jog someone’s memory.

Wearing a bra is a nightmare, even though I’ve extended the back by a couple of inches and they’re not tight, it feels really tender and it’s not where the scar is, if I breath in it feels like I have a solid mass inside ( I have joked it feels like they’ve replace my liver with a wooden one) I’ve had back pain, which could be muscular due to holding myself different but also a dull ache at the bottom of the scar, below, sort of hip area. I feel better in the morning, as the day wear on it gets a bit worse but its like my middle is tight like I have a band of elastic around it and I get these twinges every now and then if I move quickly or bend, I can’t vacuum or even pushing the shopping trolley can hurt and I don’t know when I’ll be able to mow the lawn. (lucky I’ve got my lovely husband to help).

On all the websites they keep saying everyone is different and some take longer than other to recovery but as a fairly fit middle age woman, I thought I’d be quicker. I thought it would get a bit better every week but I seem to be stuck and I’m sure some days I feel worse than when I came out of hospital. I don’t want to sound like a wimp but I have no gauge to go on and I’m starting to worry that somethings wrong.

11 Replies

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  • Hi Miss Polly

    I'm not sure if a liver dissection is the same as a liver resection? I had a liver resection nearly 5 years ago when I had a cancerous tumour and part of one segment removed. I'm guessing a dissection is pretty much the same in that part of your liver is removed? Do you know how much was removed?

    My op was by laparoscopy which means only tiny incisions in my abdomen, just big enough for a camera on a tube and the surgical instruments to go through. Then another incision on the other side of my abdomen for the bits and bobs to be pulled out. Of course once the instruments were inside the surgeon was free to move them around my abdomen at will so the damage inside was more extensive than the tiny incisions on the outside!

    It sounds like you have a major abdominal incision, more like that of a transplant patient, particularly if you had your gallbladder removed at the same time? Where on your abdomen does it go to and from.

    I was in hospital for 4 days. For a number of weeks after that I could only sleep sitting up, it was too painful to lie down. I thought, like you, I would be back at work after the 4-5 weeks. Well I wasnt. I think it was more like 4 months before I felt brave enough. I still have underlying liver disease, which contributed to my taking a while to get back on my feet, but in the early weeks it was definitely the surgery that had taken its toll.

    I think I stopped taking pain killers after about a week as well, thinking I could manage without. The GP encouraged me to start again, on a low dose co-codamol which is a mix of codeine and paracetamol, they told me not to be superwoman!!

    Remember that during surgery all your internal organs will have been pushed and shoved around, pulled and cut, stitched and pummelled. It will take a long time for all the internal swelling and scar tissue and inflammation and bruising to calm down again. I have a nasty external bruise on my ankle that I did at easter and the pharmacist I consulted said it could take 6 months to go, so I guess internal bruising can take at least as long as that.

    Like you i didnt get any follow up from the surgeon apart from a few minutes to check I was ok. Unless you need more surgery they are not really interested. Did you have a specialist nurse assigned to you, if yes, then you could talk to her about your concerns. Have you been to the GP to discuss the ongoing pain, they must see lots of people post surgery so should be able to advise on pain. Will you see the surgeon again after the scan in a year?

  • Hi Bolly

    thank you for your reply, Yes it is a resection, I had a cyst on my right lobe and the surgeon said he would need to remove a 3rd as it was a very large cyst with a couple of small ones too. My scar goes between my boobs straight down for about 4 inches then diagonally about 9 inches to my right hip, I was surprised it was so large, I had the impression or mis-belief it would be across my body, perhaps about six inches but its done now so got to live with it (no bikinis for me) your right about the painkillers and trying to be superwoman but I was worried because paracetamol and ibuprofen are not good for livers, yet they did give it me in hospital.

    Thank you it is helpful to know, I'm probably being to impatient.

  • You have the Lexus scar - its all to do with car emblems apparently, lol! Well your liver is right up under your diaphragm/ribs, so such a major incision isnt going to be down in your bikini line I'm afraid. Having a scar is better than not having a life I guess, but I understand your impatience with getting back to normal. Oh this mis-information about pain killers ha ha. Yes paracetamol is bad for the liver, but only if you overdose on it, which you wont! Its fine if you stick to the correct dose. If your liver is otherwise healthy then ibuprofen is fine, its people with cirrhosis who have to stay away from it as it can act as a blood thinner like aspirin. Also if you have recently had surgery then they prefer not to give you pain killers which are also blood thinners, understandable, but eventually you should be fine with all types. I was given a combination of paracetamol and codeine, usually the morphine based pain killers such as codeine and tramadol etc are ok in low dose and with medical supervision. If you are concerned about pain relief, go to your GP as I say they will see lots of people with post surgical pain.

    As Tatjana says (Hi Tat!) ease off the strenuous tasks especially those that cause you pain and give yourself longer to get over this. Listen to your body, gentle exercise and gentle gentle stretching is fine but stop if it hurts. Oh and like Tatjana I slept on the sofa to begin with as it was the only comfy place sort of wedged into a corner with support all round.

    My surgeon reckoned (based I guess on his patient statistics over the years) that I should be discharged from hospital after 2 days (jeez I could only walk to the toilet bent double,it took 4 days to pretend to the physios I had no problem walking up stairs!) and back to work in about 4 weeks. Yeah right, he might have done the op and know the theory but he hasnt been under the knife himself has he! The doc who said take it easy for 6 months gave you the best advice.

  • Hi Miss Polly,

    In January 2013 I had a liver resection - 1/3rd due to C. I only stayed in hospital 7 days because I just wanted to get home so I did my physiotherapy walking properly even though it hurt and they did not know. I remember I slept on the sofa in the lounge because it was the most comfortable place. I am retired so the time was my own. I still get pains at the bottom of the scar. My scar goes from my right side just above waist to my belly button and thence to just before my chest. I still have twinges which I do not understand but, in January I had to have two hernia operations and it may have been because of that op.

    I have just asked my husband and he said it took about three months for me to get better. Having said that, I cannot remember feeling the pain you are now feeling. If I was you I would phone the Consultant's secretary and ask for a fast track appointment or (what I do) whenever I have a real problem) I email the Consultant or his registrar) and and tell him everything and, if he thinks it warrants it, he fits me in his next Clinic.

    Also like Bolly mentioned, I had a C nurse assigned to me and if I had any problems I could phone her and if she thought it necessary (as did happen once) she got me an immediate appointment to see the Consultant.

    I do not think you are meant to vacuum or push the shopping trolley, I never did lol!

    With regard to pain killers, I did go home with them but I do not think I used them much, can't remember.

    But, if you have the slightest doubt, do what I suggest above - first the nurse if you have one and if not, the consultant's secretary. All you need is your hospital number.

    I also know that the hospital is keeping an eye on me. After my post surgery appointment, it was arranged in 2013 for six months later to have an ultrasound and a CT scan and, I went for my appointment the other day and in six month's time I have to have more tests, just to make sure.

    I hope that I have been helpful.

  • Thank you for your reply

    It was very helpful, I just felt that after my post op consultancy that I was now left to get on with the healing process myself, I did have a nurse, a specialist nurse, she was very helpful she gave me her card and I did phoned her after to discuss my post op appointment but don't know whether I'm still a patient now.

    I'm going to leave it for a week and if not better go to my GP, but strangely I feel a lot better today.

  • If you have an appointment to attend clinic in a year, then you are still a patient. Did her card have an email as well as phone? If so you could pretty much copy your first post to us and email it to her and see what she says. I'm sure she will agree with us about the time scale, but she may be able to reassure you further about where the pain is and what it feels like and whether this is normal or not.

  • I've had 2 liver resections and the first one took over 6 months for me to feel well enough to go back to work. Both mine were open surgerys and I have a 16 inch scar across my abdomen.

    It's major surgery and and my Drs and nurses have said it can take upto a year to fully recover from it.

    I would advise taking it easy a while longer and if you're still in pain ask your GP if you can be referred back to the surgeon.

    My last surgery was 18 months ago and I still get occasional aches and pains.

    I don't use a lot of pain killers but have found a TENS machine to be effective for pain relief.

  • Thank you Mama41, I think you replied to me with another question I ask before my op, I think your right and it can take a lot longer than I was lead to expect or perhaps wanted and my plan is to go to my GP (haha after all she started all of this ) if its not improving in a couple of weeks but as I said to Tatjana, I do feel better today

  • Glad you're feeling better today :)

    It will get easier it just takes time. Especially if you were told it would only be 5/6 weeks.

    Btw I still wear a bikini my scar doesn't really bother me anymore :)

  • Hi Miss-Polly,

    I am pleased to hear your operation went well even though you are still in a lot of pain. I am still trying to avoid an op for my liver cysts, especially as I am in lots of pain anyway and taking quite high doses of paracetamol, tramadol and gabapentin!

    With regards to your pain I would definitely advise asking to go onto tramadol as there are risks of bleeding with ibuprofen and paracetamol alone won't do the job! I know I haven't had the surgery but I am no longer able to wear an underwired bra because of how big my liver is, so I have found some very comfortable non wired bras, which might be an option for you.

    Hope your recovery progresses well.

    Claire

  • Hi Clairey27

    Thank you for your reply; sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to you, I have actual started to feel a lot better so I was probably being too impatient and have now turned the corner as this week the pain is getting less (touch wood) my bras have started to feel more comfortable too but your advice was very welcome and I’ll mention those painkiller if I need to go to the Doctors.

    It is a dilemma isn’t it, I had to think long and hard about whether to go ahead with my operation, as I didn’t feel unwell, (and I’m a wimp) they found a large cyst when I had a CT scan and and MRI after I went to the doctors with a few minor symptoms, indigestion and tight feeling around my upper body. I was very surprise because I receive a letter saying no treatment required and then the next day an appointment to see a surgical consultant, where they told me they thought I had a biliary cystadenoma but couldn’t be sure unless they remove it. I could live with it, having regular scans, some people do, but it has a tiny chance that it could eventual turn cancerous, so I choose to have a liver resection and I’ll be honest there had been more than a couple of times when I wondered whether it was the right decision but thought it was better than constantly worrying from year to year, scan to scan if I had cancer .

    Only you can decide what’s best for you but if your quality of life would be better by having the op, if you are having to rely on painkiller day to day then you really should consider it, ( says me who’s been moaning ) all sorts of thing go through your mind I know, like it’s not the right time or I can’t afford to take time off work, how will everyone cope without me even will I survive! but no time is a good time to go into hospital.

    Thank you once again and I hope you make the right decision for you.

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