After Your Surgery

When your surgery is over, we want you to have a succssful recovery and return to your normal activities as soon as possible.

Planning for Your Return Home

  • Arrange to be taken home after your surgery. You will not be able to drive yourself home or take public transportation.
  • For the first 24 hours after your return home or while you are taking narcotic pain medication, you should not drive a car, operate machinery or power tools, or make legally binding decisions.
  • Arrange for someone to stay with you for the first 24 hours after you return home, or longer if necessary. You may need assistance with getting in and out of bed, going to the bathroom, and preparing meals. You may not be able to climb stairs. Discuss this with your surgeon or your surgeon's team.
  • Ask your surgeon or surgeon's team when you will be able to return to work.

Length of Stay

Your length of stay in the hospital or surgery facility will depend on the type of surgery and anesthesia that you have. You will be discharged when it is safe for you to leave and complete your recovery at home.

  • You will be asked to arrive at least 1 to 2 hours before your surgery is scheduled to start to complete preparation.
  • If you are having outpatient or ambulatory surgery, you may be discharged to go home as soon as 30 minutes after your surgery, or you may need to stay up to 2 or 3 hours or more.
  • If you are staying overnight after surgery, you may go home the next day or you may need to stay for several days.
  • If you have questions about your length of stay after surgery, discuss this with your surgeon's team.

Discharge Instructions

Before you go home, the nurses will give you written instructions about your care at home. The instructions will include information about diet, activity, medications, pain relief, follow-up appointments, incision or wound care, or other instructions specific to your surgery and the type of anesthesia you received. If you have questions after returning home, please refer to these instructions.

If you still have questions after reviewing your instructions, contact your surgeon's office during regular clinic hours.

Call your surgeon's office if you develop any of the following symptoms:

  • Severe headache, nausea, or vomiting that does not get better within 24 hours
  • Persistent bleeding or your dressing becomes saturated with blood
  • Fever above 101°F
  • Drainage, redness, swelling, or foul odor from the incision or surgical site
  • Pain not relieved by pain medication
  • Inability to urinate
  • Signs of circulatory or nerve impairment, including change in color, numbness, tingling, or coldness of an extremity

If you have urgent questions or concerns after clinic hours, call the Consulting Nurse Service.

Follow-Up Appointment

You will probably have a follow-up appointment with your surgeon or another health care provider after your surgery. The date and time of your follow-up appointment will be on your discharge instructions, or you may be instructed to call and schedule a follow-up appointment after you return home.