Before surgery, your surgeon reviewed all risks related to your surgery. Your surgeon and the surgical
team will keep you safe during your surgery. But surgery is never risk-free.
The most common
problems after surgery are
pneumonia, bleeding, infection, clotted blood
(hematoma) at the surgery site, or a reaction to the anesthesia.
In the first 48 hours after surgery, the most likely risks are bleeding
or problems with your heart or lungs.
From 48 hours to 30 days
after surgery, the most common risks are infection, blood clots, or problems
with other body organs, such as a
urinary tract infection.
In the recovery area
Right after surgery, you will
be taken to a recovery area where nurses will care for and observe you. A nurse
will check your vital signs and bandages. He or she will also ask about your
pain level. Pain levels will likely have already been
explained to you before surgery. You will most likely stay in the recovery area
for 1 to 4 hours. And then you will be moved to a hospital room or you will go
home. You may receive medicine or fluids through your vein (intravenous, or IV) during your time in the
If you go home, the nurse will give you instructions on
breathing and exercises to help prevent any problems. For most minor surgeries,
the nurse will encourage you to be as active as possible to prevent these
Pain control is an important concern after surgery. Inflammation or nerve injury from the surgery can cause pain. Your doctor may give you more than one medicine to help relieve pain. Often, opioids are given. In some cases, you may use a patient-controlled anesthesia (PCA) pump so that it's easy to get pain medicine right when you need it.
Relief of any nausea or vomiting is also an important
concern. If you will be going home the same day, you will need to drink fluids
without vomiting, be upright without fainting, and urinate on your own before
you will be sent home.
In addition to any
special instructions from your surgeon, your nurse will explain information to
help you in your recovery. You will most likely go home with a sheet of care
instructions including who to contact if a problem arises. These instructions
- Having someone else at home to check on you
or arranging for a nurse to check on you.
- Which medicines you are
to take and when, including medicines you take regularly.
- The level
of activity that is safe for you to do. For example, the instructions will
likely list when it is okay to drive, how much you can walk each day, how much
weight you can lift, and what other things you can do as you recover. For most
minor surgeries, you will be encouraged to be as active as possible to avoid
- How to take care of your incision. The instructions
- The best way to bathe and protect your wound, such as how
to cover the area if needed and when it is safe to shower and let the incision
- How to care for and change your surgical
- What clothing to wear to avoid rubbing your incision
- What symptoms to look for that may be a problem.
Signs of a skin infection, such as a fever, increased
pain, or increased drainage, need to be checked by your surgeon. Mild swelling
and redness around the incision area is normal after surgery.
- What foods to eat and how your bowel and
urinary habits may be different.
- The use of special equipment, such
as a sling or crutches.
- When to have a follow-up appointment with
your surgeon. Your surgeon will want to talk to you before your follow-up
- You are not sure about your home care
instructions. Ask right away if you have any questions about wound care or
- You develop a symptom or problem that you do not know how
- You develop an unexpected symptom or
- You are not able to take your prescription