After surgery, your recovery time depends on the type of surgery and the type of anesthesia given during surgery. For example, patients who have received local anesthesia may be able to go home shortly after the procedure. Patients who have received regional or general anesthesia are monitored carefully in a recovery room until the anesthesia wears off, which usually takes about one to two hours.
After procedures done under general or conscious sedation anesthesia, you may feel groggy for some time after surgery. If you have had general anesthesia, you may gradually become aware of soreness in your throat from the anesthesia tube, the tubes at the site of surgery for draining excess fluid, and perhaps a catheter, which is a tube placed in the bladder to allow urine to exit your body. You may also become aware of pain as you awaken, and you may be given medication to relieve it. When your condition is stable, you will be either transported to your hospital room or discharged home.
Before you leave the hospital, schedule follow-up appointments so that your doctor can monitor your ongoing recovery. In addition, it is important to follow recovery instructions from your doctor or nurse, and contact your health care team if you have any questions.
Tips for a Speedy Recovery
The following suggestions may help speed recovery:
- Ask your doctor about engaging in physical activity after your surgery. It is important to walk as soon as you can to circulate blood and prevent clots. In addition, physical therapy may be an important part of your recovery because it can help build strength and flexibility, and it may begin as early as the day following surgery. Some patients are given a home exercise program to continue their progress, but it is important to follow the specific directions given by your doctor.
- Perform deep breathing exercises to help re-expand your lungs and lower the risk of pneumonia if your doctor recommends it.
- Do not smoke during recovery. If you do smoke, talk with your health care team about resources to help you quit smoking.
- Talk with your nurse or hospital dietitian about getting the right nutrition and returning to your regular foods.
- Let your doctor and nurse know if you are in pain so they can help you to manage it.
- Monitor your condition for complications, such as bleeding, infections, and allergic reactions to anesthesia or drugs, including nausea, shortness of breath, and dizziness. Your health care team will explain the signs and symptoms to watch for and when to contact your health care team about them.
- If you develop a fever, excessive drainage from your surgical incision, redness or excessive swelling at your incision site, or persistent nausea and vomiting, contact your health care team.
- Ask your doctor or nurse when and how to change your bandage, also called the dressing. Although a bandage is used to help a surgical incision heal and guard against infection, leaving it on too long may delay healing or lead to infection.