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Essential Tremor and Deep Brain Stimulation

What Are the Risks of Deep Brain Stimulation?

As with any surgical procedure, there are risks of deep brain stimulation. There is a small risk of a serious and permanent complication such as paralysis, seizures, infection, and changes in thinking, memory and personality. Talk to your doctor to see if these risks apply to you.

Will I Be Asleep During Deep Brain Stimulation Surgery?

You will remain awake but in a type of "twilight" zone during most of deep brain stimulation surgery. This allows the surgical team to interact with you when testing the effects of the stimulation. Small amounts of local anesthetic (pain-relieving medication) are given in sensitive areas. The vast majority of people experience minimal discomfort during the procedure.

What Should I Expect After Deep Brain Stimulation Surgery?

After deep brain stimulation surgery, you may feel tired and sore but will be given medication to keep you comfortable. Also, you may have irritation or soreness around the stitches and pin sites.

As with any surgery, there are some guidelines and limitations that you should follow after DBS. Be sure to discuss these with your doctor and ask questions before surgery. Understanding what you will be experiencing and knowing what to expect afterward can help ease some of the natural anxiety that comes with any medical procedure.

When Will I Be Able to Go Home After Deep Brain Stimulation Surgery?

The average hospital stay for deep brain stimulation surgery is two to three days.

How Should I Care for the Surgical Area Once I Am Home?

  • Your stitches or staples will be removed seven to 10 days after surgery.
  • Each of the four pin sites should be kept covered with band-aids until they are dry. These should be changed every day as necessary.
  • You will be able to wash your head with a damp cloth, avoiding the surgical area.
  • You may shampoo your hair the day after your stitches or staples are removed, but only very gently.
  • You should not scratch or irritate the wound areas.

Will I Have to Limit Activity Following Deep Brain Stimulation?

  • You should not engage in light activities for two weeks after deep brain stimulation surgery. This includes housework and sexual activity.
  • You should not engage in heavy activities for four to six weeks after surgery. This includes jogging, swimming, or any other aerobic activity. Anything strenuous should be avoided to allow your surgical wound to heal properly. If you have any questions about activities, call your doctor before performing them.
  • You should not lift more than five pounds for at least two weeks.
  • Depending on the type of work you do, you may return to work within four to six weeks.

Warning About Deep Brain Stimulation

Call your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms after deep brain stimulation surgery:

  • Severe and persistent headaches
  • Bleeding from your incision
  • Increased redness or swelling in the area of the incision
  • Loss of vision
  • A sudden change in vision
  • A persistent temperature of 101 degrees Fahrenheit or higher

WebMD Medical Reference

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