Going Home After Surgery

You will be discharged from the hospital once your healthcare team determines that it is safe for you to do so. If you were given medicine (anesthesia) to make you sleepy and prevent pain, you may still feel drowsy or have an upset stomach.

  • Be sure to have an adult family member or friend ready to drive you home.
  • If you need crutches or other tools, be sure you are shown how to use them. If you can, have a family member or friend listen to the instructions with you.
  • Have someone ready to stay with you for at least the first night.

Recovering at Home

At home, be sure to follow all instructions you've been given.

  • Don't drive or make any important decisions for at least 24 hours after getting any type of sedation or anesthesia.
  • Keep any dressing or bandage you have clean and dry. Know when you can change or remove the bandage. Ask when you can shower or take a bath again.
  • Follow your healthcare provider's instructions about food and drink. At first, your stomach may be upset. You may not feel like eating much. Drink plenty of clear liquids such as water, apple juice, or ginger ale.
  • Follow instructions for treating constipation.
  • Unless you're told not to, get up and move around. This helps you heal. Walking a few times a day is often recommended.
  • Do any deep breathing or coughing exercises as instructed. These help keep your lungs clear.
  • Be sure to follow all after-care instructions.

Taking Medicines

You may be given pain medicines or other medicines after surgery.

  • Take pain medicine at regular times as instructed. Do not wait until the pain gets bad before you take it. Take only as much pain medicine as prescribed.
  • Don't drive, use power tools or other dangerous machines, or drink alcohol while taking pain medicine.
  • If you have been given antibiotics, take them until they are gone or you are told to stop. If you have trouble taking them or have side effects, call your healthcare provider.

Follow Up

Someone from your healthcare team may call to check how you're doing. Let them know if you have any problems or questions.

When to Call Your Healthcare Provider

Call your healthcare provider if:

  • You can't keep food or fluids down
  • You have not urinated within the time your healthcare team noted
  • You have not had a bowel movement within the time your healthcare team noted
  • Your bandage soaks through (some bleeding and leakage is normal)
  • Your pain gets worse and is not eased by pain medicine

Call if you have any of these signs of infection:

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed
  • Bleeding or swelling that increases
  • Bad smell, warmth, or green or yellow discharge from the cut (incision)
  • A red, hard, hot, or painful area around the cut or on your legs
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain