Going home after surgery

When you go home, you will not be able to do a lot straight away. But it is important to keep moving. You will need to rest for a few weeks. How long it takes you to recover will depend on the operation you have had.

If you have had major surgery, it is very important not to lift any heavy objects for at least six to eight weeks. This will help the skin to heal completely.

If you have had lymph nodes removed from your groin you may find some movement uncomfortable, such as walking or getting into a bath. This is normal and it will get easier as the wounds heal.

You can usually start driving after about six weeks, but you should check with your doctor or nurse and car insurance provider first. They may want you to wait longer before you drive again.

If your operation involved removing only a small amount of skin, your recovery will be much quicker. Your doctor will advise you on what to expect and the precautions you should take. Here are some other helpful tips:

  • Avoid wearing tight clothing or clothing made from synthetic materials – cotton is better. You may find loose-fitting skirts comfortable.
  • Avoid using any lotions, perfumes and talcum powders in the area where you had your operation.
  • Avoid doing a lot of walking until the skin has healed. Short walks are better.
  • Keeping your wound clean and dry is important. You could rinse the area with a hand-held shower. Some women find it easier to use a ‘sitz bath’ (a type of bath that fits over the toilet and allows you to soak just your buttocks and genital area). If you cannot get a sitz bath locally, you can buy one online.
  • If passing urine makes your wound sting, try pouring a small jug of warm or tepid water over the wound while you are still sitting on the toilet.
  • A hairdryer on a cool setting can be a comfortable way of drying the vulval skin. You can also try gently patting your skin dry with a clean towel.
  • If you can avoid wearing underwear, this may help to keep you more comfortable. However, it won’t be possible if you have to keep pads in place.
  • If you become constipated, ask your doctor to prescribe you some laxatives.

Before you leave hospital, the staff can arrange for a district nurse to visit you at home. They can also organise other support services if you need them. If you need help with a wound or a wound drain, the district nurses can visit you at home to help with this.

I found leaving my knickers off was most comfortable. I wore loose boxer shorts, as they didn’t touch the wounds. Give yourself time to recover.


Back to Surgery

What happens before the surgery?

Your surgeon will discuss your surgery and how you can prepare with you – this is a good time to ask any questions you have.

Who might I meet?

A team of specialists will plan your surgery. This will include a surgeon who specialises in your type of cancer.