← Surgery

What to Expect After Surgery

Right after surgery, you will be taken to the post anes­the­sia care unit (PACU) or directly to the inten­sive care unit where nurses will take care of you and watch you closely. The surgeon will discuss with your family how the proce­dure went. A nurse will check your temper­a­ture, blood pres­sure and pulse often, look at your bandages, regu­late your IV and give you pain medica­tion, as you need it. 

What do I need to tell the PACU nurse?
Please tell the nurse if you are having pain. The nurse will ask you to give your pain a number on a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 mean­ing you have no pain, and 10 you have the worst pain imag­in­able. The nurse will check your pain and continue to help you mange it while keep­ing you safe, until you are as comfort­able as possible.

Some patients feel very sick to their stom­ach (nausea). It is impor­tant to tell your nurse about it right away, so it can be treated with medica­tion. If you have had prob­lems with nausea in the past, the anes­the­sia care provider knows this before surgery.

What does effec­tive pain treat­ment mean?
Effec­tive treat­ment of pain will help you get better faster, help you go home sooner and, hope­fully, go back to your normal activ­i­ties. People can have differ­ent pain from others even when they have the same surgery. It is impor­tant to talk about how to control your pain with your doctor before your surgery. Let the doctors know what type of ways you have used in the past to help control your pain. Pain is part of the surgery proce­dure and is normal and expected for you to have some pain after certain proce­dures. Your nurse will part­ner with you to keep you as comfort­able as possi­ble while keep­ing you safe during the crit­i­cal time period after anes­the­sia. Your doctor and anes­the­si­ol­o­gist will discuss options and make a plan with you. 


If my pain is under control, what else do I need to know?
When your pain is toler­a­ble, your body can focus on the most impor­tant work: heal­ing. Take your medica­tion as soon as you need it. This is not the time to test to see how much pain you can stand.

What other feel­ings may I expe­ri­ence after surgery?
You may feel sleepy, dizzy and/​or forget­ful from the medica­tion given to you during your surgery. 


When will I see my family after surgery?
Depend­ing on the facil­ity you are at will deter­mine visi­ta­tion in the PACU. Check with the nurs­ing staff to find out if your family will be allowed to visit you.

What type of infor­ma­tion do I need to know before going home?
IF you are going home that same day, you will be given printed discharge instruc­tions for your care at home. The nurs­ing staff will go over all the infor­ma­tion with you and a family member or friend. Your instruc­tions will include: 

  • Activ­ity restrictions
  • Diet
  • Pain medica­tion
  • Follow up instruc­tions with your surgeon
  • Signs to watch for if you need to call the doctor
  • You might be given a prescrip­tion depend­ing on your doctor’s orders and what kind of surgery you had done. 


How long will it take me to feel normal again?
Be prepared at home to continue your recov­ery. Plan to take it easy for a few days until you feel back to normal. Patients often feel minor effects follow­ing surgery due to anes­the­sia, which might include: 

  • Being very tired
  • Muscle aches
  • A sore throat
  • Dizzi­ness
  • Headaches

Some­times patients can feel very sick to their stom­ach and may throw up. These side effects usually go away quickly in the first few hours after surgery, but it can take several days before they are completely gone. Due to feel­ing tired or having some discom­fort, most patients do not feel up to their normal activ­i­ties for several days. 


Can I drive myself home? 

Patients who have outpatient/​same day surgery must have some­one drive them home and stay with for 24 hours follow­ing their surgery. The medica­tions you were give during your surgery may affect your memory and mental judg­ment for the next 24 hours. During that time frame, do not use alco­holic bever­ages and tobacco prod­ucts. It is also advised for you not to make any impor­tant busi­ness or personal deci­sions and do not use machin­ery or elec­tri­cal equipment. 

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