Although you may return home a few days after the completion of your
coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) procedure, it may take several months
before you can return to all of the activities you enjoyed prior to surgery.
Recovery from major surgery has both physical and emotional aspects.
For the first month or two after you are discharged from the
hospital, you will be working to return to your presurgical level of activity.
Your doctor will set goals for you to reach and will place restrictions on
activities that would slow your recovery.
Physical aspects of recovery
The pace of your physical recovery will depend significantly on your
health before you received bypass surgery. For example, if you had coronary
artery disease (CAD) but no other medical conditions, it will probably take you
less time to resume a normal activity level than if you are older or have other
Your recovery will take at least 4 to 6 weeks. During your recovery
from CABG surgery, your life will probably be quite different from how it was
before your surgery. The table below lists "normal" physical conditions after
During CABG surgery recovery
It is normal to:
For how long?
What can I do?
Not have much of an appetite.
The thought of food makes you feel nauseated, or you cannot
A few weeks to months
- Be patient; your appetite will soon be
back to normal.
- Eat healthy foods.
- Try eating frequent,
Have swelling in your arm or leg where blood vessels were
You have incisions there as well as missing blood vessels
that your surgeon used to bypass your coronary arteries.
A few weeks
- Keep your swollen arm or leg elevated.
- Wear support hose if ordered by your doctor.
- Tell your
doctor if it doesn't improve.
Have difficulty sleeping.
You are in pain and/or are not very physically
A few weeks
- Take your pain medication before you go
- Try not to take naps during the day.
Have sore or tight muscles in your shoulders and upper
You were in the same position during your surgery and early
A few weeks
- Be patient.
- Take your pain
- Try warm, moist packs and massage.
Have a lump over your incision.
Your skin and muscle are healing.
About 6 weeks
- Do nothing.
- Watch for signs
of infection: redness, discharge, fever, and pain.
It is a side effect of some medications, and/or you are not
very physically active.
- Eat more fruits and foods with
- Ask your doctor to recommend a laxative.
Emotional aspects of recovery
Recovering from CABG surgery means not only getting back your
physical strength but also your emotional and mental well-being. The fatigue
and pain you might be experiencing may make you feel depressed. You may:
- Have mood swings.
- Feel afraid or anxious.
- Be irritable.
- Not be able to
- Have good days and bad days.