Surgery: What to Expect (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
Before surgery, your surgeon reviewed all risks related to your surgery. Your surgeon and the surgical team will keep you safe during your surgery. But surgery is never risk-free. The most common problems after surgery are pneumonia, bleeding, infection, clotted blood (hematoma) at the surgery site, or a reaction to the anesthesia.
In the first 48 hours after surgery, the most likely risks are bleeding or problems with your heart or lungs.
From 48 hours to 30 days after surgery, the most common risks are infection, blood clots, or problems with other body organs, such as a urinary tract infection.
In the recovery area
Right after surgery, you will be taken to a recovery area where nurses will care for and observe you. A nurse will check your vital signs and bandages. He or she will also ask about your pain level. Pain levels will likely have already been explained to you before surgery. You will most likely stay in the recovery area for 1 to 4 hours. And then you will be moved to a hospital room or you will go home. You may receive medicine or fluids through your vein (intravenous, or IV) during your time in the hospital.
If you go home, the nurse will give you instructions on breathing and exercises to help prevent any problems. For most minor surgeries, the nurse will encourage you to be as active as possible to prevent these problems.
Pain control is an important concern after surgery. Inflammation or nerve injury from the surgery can cause pain. Your doctor may give you more than one medicine to help relieve pain. Often, opioids are given. In some cases, you may use a patient-controlled anesthesia (PCA) pump so that it's easy to get pain medicine right when you need it.
Relief of any nausea or vomiting is also an important concern. If you will be going home the same day, you will need to drink fluids without vomiting, be upright without fainting, and urinate on your own before you will be sent home.
In addition to any special instructions from your surgeon, your nurse will explain information to help you in your recovery. You will most likely go home with a sheet of care instructions including who to contact if a problem arises. These instructions will include:
A nurse will review these instructions with you. He or she can also help arrange for any care you will need when you go home. This may include scheduling nursing care or visits from other health professionals.
When should you call your surgeon?
Your recovery from surgery may be different from what your surgeon expected. Other symptoms or problems may develop after your surgery, even when you follow your surgeon's instructions. This can be very frustrating.
Be sure to call your surgeon if you have an unexpected symptom or problem, including:
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