Once I've finished in the operating room, you will be taken to the recovery room. There, the nurses and anesthesia staff help you recover from anesthesia. If you want, I'll call one member of your family or a friend to let them know how things went.
You might stay in the recovery room an hour or 2; maybe even longer if the hospital gets full on the inpatient rooms. Your family/friends can visit with you once the nurses get you settled in. 

When you have been up walking around, eating solid food, able to get comfortable on pain medication taken by mouth, and can urinate, you may go home. Exceptions to this would be if you've had an operation to place a shunt, remove a brain tumor, or need to remain in the hospital because of some other issue (need for rehab, need specialized nursing care, etc.). Most patients will be ready to go home early afternoon.

You will be given discharge instructions as follows:
1. Keep the dressing on the wound for 3 days, after that, take it off. It's OK to leave it off, too. Some people prefer to cover it up, and that's OK ( for example, if your incision is at your waist line, or where you feel it's a bit conspicuous). Change the dressing if it gets wet. A band-aid of appropriate size or gauze sponge with tape will work fine.

2. It's OK to shower, just don't let the water jet directly on the wound. No swimming, soaking baths, whirlpools, hot tubs, pools, ocean, etc. for 2-4 weeks. We will let you know when it's OK to submerse wound. For an incision on your head, you can shampoo on the 3rd day after surgery.

3. Stay active. The WORSE thing you can do is sit around. That leads to blood clots in the legs (if they travel to the lung they can kill you), pneumonia, and overall deconditioning. If an activity hurts, don't do it. Otherwise, anything except contact sports, parachuting, skiing, etc. is OK !

4. Take pain meds IF you need them. You will get a prescription for appropriate pain meds. Don't take them if you don't need them. I will prescribe pain meds after surgery for a period of time (it varies) but not forever. In most cases, narcotic use is not a long term management strategy that is worthwhile. Pain medication causes many people to get constipated. Try Milk of Magnesia, 2 tablespoons 3 times a day until things get moving.

5. Call my office, 413-452-6650, for a follow-up appointment. You will see a PA on your 1st post-op visit about 7-14 days after surgery. They will take the staples/sutures out if you have them, check your wound, etc. I'll see you about 4-6 weeks after your surgery. If you have had a tumor removed, I will see you on your 1st post-op appointment, discuss the pathology results with you, and set you up to see other specialists (radiation oncologist, medical oncologist) if needed.

What to Expect After Surgery
Kamal Kalia, M.D., FAANS

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