Accessibility Tools

Recovering from Surgery

What can I do after surgery?

  • You should get up and around after surgery. When you get home from the hospital or surgery center, you will probably want to rest for a while, but then get up and walk around in your home.
  • The day after surgery, you should also get up and around, but don’t overdo it. You should not engage in strenuous activities that strain the area of your surgery.

What medicine can I take for pain?

  • For many surgeries, over the counter (OTC) medications like Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Advil (ibuprofen) will be all you need. These two medications work in different ways and complement each other. They can be combined or alternated.
  • You can take two extra-strength Tylenol tablets (500 mg each) every 8 hours, and two Advil tablets (200 mg each) every 8 hours.
  • People with liver disease should not take Tylenol, and people with kidney disease or stomach ulcers should not take Advil. You should also not take these drugs if you are allergic to them or have had other adverse effects. Your surgeon may prescribe a stronger opiate pain medication. You should minimize the amount you take of this pain medication and discontinue it as soon as possible.
  • For more information about pain management after surgery, click here.

What if I am having more pain than expected after the surgery?

If you are experiencing a significant amount of pain after surgery, or your pain is not being managed by your pain medication, please contact the Medical Assistant.

What if I think I have a fever after surgery?

If you think you have fever after surgery, please check your temperature with a thermometer. If your temperature is 100.5 degrees Fahrenheit or more, please call our office.

What if I am feeling constipated after surgery?

  • Constipation is very common after surgery. It is generally OK to take magnesium, a stool softener like docusate sodium (Colace), or a laxative (Miralax, Dulcolax, or other over-the-counter laxatives) after surgery.
  • If you are having severe abdominal pain or bloating, please call our office.

How do I care for my incision after surgery?

  • For most incisions, it is helpful to apply ice for 20 minutes per hour, several times each day for the first 2 days. If your incision has superglue or steri-strips covering it, the area can get wet in the shower the day after surgery.
  • If your incision is closed with staples, you should wait 48 hours before showering. You should not submerge your incision underwater for two weeks after surgery.
  • You should not apply any antibacterial ointments or creams to the incision for 2 weeks after surgery. If you would like to use a scar-reducing cream (like Mederma), you should wait about two weeks until the superglue or steri-strips have come off.

What if I am concerned about how the area of surgery looks or feels after surgery?

It is normal for the area of surgery to feel hard, or even like there is a lump there. The area of surgery will usually be a bit painful and tender to touch. Bruising or redness right by an incision is also normal. A small amount of drainage can also be normal. If there is bright redness spreading outward from an incision, unexpectedly severe pain or swelling, a large amount of drainage, or significant warmth to touch, please call our office.

What if I have trouble urinating after surgery?

  • Difficulty urinating is quite common after being under anesthesia. Usually, it will resolve with time. Running water in the sink while urinating can be helpful.
  • If you are unable to urinate at all more than eight hours after surgery, and especially if you are experiencing significant pain or discomfort, you should go to an emergency room. Catheterization of the bladder may be needed to relieve the problem. With time, the bladder’s function will return to normal.

What if I have questions after surgery that aren’t answered here?

During normal business hours, please call our office at and ask to speak to your surgeon’s Medical Assistant (MA). If you are having an urgent issue and need to speak to the doctor outside of normal business hours, please call our office and our answering service will contact the doctor on call.

What are things I should call about urgently after hours?

You should call if you have a fever of 100.5 or higher, nausea or vomiting that does not resolve on its own or with medications, severe pain that is more than expected, signs of infection around an incision (significant redness, warmth, or drainage), or trouble breathing.