Liver Surgery: Types, Procedures, and Recovery Tips

The liver is located on the right side of the body below the ribs. It is important for storing and filtering blood, making bile to ease digestion, changing sugar into an energy form, and more. The portion of the liver that is affected by cancer, will be removed during surgery.

Different types of liver surgeries are performed to treat cancer, which includes:

1. Radio Frequency Ablation and Microwave Ablation

These procedures involve destroying cancer cells by heating them at extreme temperatures.

2. Liver Resection

It is a surgery to remove the portion of the liver affected with the tumors. When removing a tumor, your surgeon will also need to remove a small amount of healthy tissue. The location and size of the tumor decide the amount of tissue that will be removed.

3. Irreversible Electroporation

This procedure uses an electric current to destroy cancer cells. The treatment options vary from person to person. Your surgeon will explain the type of liver surgery you will undergo. The length of your surgery depends on the type of surgery and the number of tumors to be removed. 
During recovery, the healthy part of your liver will grow larger to replace the part that was removed. It will take a few weeks for your liver to return to its actual size and a few months for it to be fully functional.

After Your Liver Surgery

Recovery will take time from a few weeks to months. Consider the following things to recover safely from your liver surgery.

1. In the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit

You will be in the post-anesthesia care unit after your surgery. Hospital staff will monitor your oxygen levels, body temperature, pulse, and blood pressure. You will receive pain medications, tubes, and drains. You may be asked to stay for a few hours or overnight for observation. After that, you will be taken to your hospital room.

2. In Your Hospital Room

The length of your hospital stay depends on the type of liver surgery you had and your recovery.

  • Hospital staff will give you some instructions for your recovery including what to do and what to expect every day during your recovery.
  • You can get back to your routine activities sooner if you start moving around sooner. 

3. Leaving the Hospital

Your incision would have started to heal when you leave the hospital. However, before you leave, examine your incision with hospital staff and caregiver. This will help you know the current status of your incision and notice any changes in the future.

4. At Home: Recovery Tips

A follow-up visit is required after 10 to 14 days of your discharge. You can recover sooner at home by following these tips:

  • Take pain medications as prescribed and when required. Visit your surgeon if those medications do not reduce your pain.
  • Follow the diet as instructed and do not drink alcohol.
  • Do exercise, especially walking.
  • Make sure to drink 8 glasses of liquids daily.
  • Sometimes the skin below your incision will feel numb, this is normal and will go away over time. If you have any drainage from your incision or if the area around your incision is puffy or red, visit your surgeon.
  • Take a shower every day with warm water.
  • When you are ready to take solid foods, make sure to eat 4 to 6 small meals every day.
  • Do not lift heavy weights for 8 weeks after your surgery.
  • Talk to your surgeon before you get back to work, especially if your work involves lots of heavy lifting or movement.
  • Take a small walk after every hour to prevent blood clots.

Want to learn more about liver surgery? Contact us at 907-276-3676. At Far North Surgery, the doctors have ample experience in performing various types of liver surgeries.

Also Read: Port-A-Cath Placement in Anchorage, AK


Dr. Madhu Prasad, M.D., FACS

Dr. Madhu Prasad has over 30+ years of experience working as a general surgeon and surgical oncologist and providing the highest level of care in Anchorage, Alaska. He believes in providing quality care to patients and their families. Inspired by compassion and humanism, Dr. Prasad and his team work for the well-being of their patients.

Alaska Cancer Treatment Center

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