Your recovery after surgery will depend on the type of operation you have.
After the operation, you will be encouraged to start moving around as soon as possible. This can help reduce the risk of some problems.
Drips and drains
After your operation, you will have a drip going into a vein in the arm or neck (intravenous infusion). This will give you fluids until you are able to eat and drink again. It may also be used to give you painkillers and other medications. Once you are eating and drinking normally again, it is taken out.
You will usually have a tube (catheter) put in during the operation to drain urine (pee) from the bladder. This can be taken out a few hours after surgery. But some people may need it to stay in for longer.
You may have a fine tube draining fluid and blood from the wound. It will drain into a small bottle. A nurse will take it out after a few days.
Feeling sick (nausea)
Some people feel a bit sick for the first 24 hours after the operation. The nurse will give you anti-sickness injections or drugs to help control any sickness. If you still feel sick, tell your nurse.
Pain and discomfort
You will have some pain and discomfort after your operation. This can be controlled with painkillers. For the first day or two after your operation, you will usually have one of the following:
- A pump attached to a needle in the arm. This gives painkillers into your bloodstream. You control the amount by pressing a button. This is called patient-controlled analgesia (PCA).
- An epidural. This gives painkillers directly into the spinal nerve system through a fine plastic tube in your back.
Before you go home, your pain will be controlled by tablets. You will be given a prescription for painkillers you can take at home as needed.
You may still have some aches and twinges close to the scar for several weeks after surgery.
Moving around helps you recover more quickly. And it reduces the risk of complications.
The nurses will encourage you to get up fairly soon after your operation. The ward staff will help you with this. And you may need some help to wash and go to the toilet. Once you are moving about more freely, you will be able to do more for yourself.
Doing leg and breathing exercises can also help reduce the risk of chest infections and blood clots. Your nurse or physiotherapist will teach you these exercises.
You may be given a drug that helps prevent blood clots. This is called an anti‑coagulant. A nurse will inject it under the skin, usually in the tummy (abdomen). The injections usually continue for 28 days. A nurse will show you, or a relative or friend, how to do the injection for when you go home. They will also give you advice about how to dispose of the needles safely. Sometimes a district nurse or practice nurse can give you the injections.
The wound is closed using staples or stitches. The staples are removed 7 to 10 days after the operation. This can be done by a practice nurse at your GP surgery. The stitches are usually dissolvable, so they do not need to be removed.
It is important to let your nurse or doctor know straight away if your wound:
- becomes hot or painful
- starts to bleed or leak any fluids.